My kids read a lot. And, they read fast. There is no way that I can pre-read all that they lay their eyes on. So, I greatly appreciate when a friend has a book recommendation. That's how we came across The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
At this precise moment I don't exactly remember who recommended the books to us, but I am extremely grateful that he/she did. THANK YOU! We actually bought the audio version of the book and listened to it on a very long car ride. How long? Well, we started the audio book almost as soon as we left home. We took two days driving and the book ended just as we were pulling up to our hotel. I believe the audio version is a smidge longer than 13 hours. But, I can honestly say that it was the quietest and most attentive my kids have EVER been on such a long car ride. My kids range in age from 5-12 and they were all completely involved in this book to the very end. Even better, my husband and I were also very much entertained.
Synopsis: Four special children of different geniuses are teamed together to go on a secret mission to save the world. In order to complete their mission, the children will have to work together to solve puzzles and work out clues. Will they be able to complete their mission?
What we liked: First, I liked that this book was not specifically geared toward just girls or just boys. The central character is a boy, but the main focus is on the 4 characters - 2 boys, 2 girls. Both genders in our van enjoyed this story.
Second, I really enjoyed the clear, witty, and entertaining style of the writer. Some books you just want to be entertained by. This one didn't disappoint. It was clever, funny, and suspenseful. We enjoyed trying to figure out the clues and puzzles alongside the characters. And, we felt that it was just as entertaining to us (the parents) as it was to the kids. That's a blessing.
Then, on to the things that make this mom glad for good literature; this book did not contain any foul language, political rants, religious comments that go against our faith, or questionable ideologies (at least by my own standards). It also did not portray all adults as dolts and idiots or parents as clueless sideline fluff. There was no romance and no violence that wasn't recovered from.
Some themes of the book include: working together, everyone has their unique gifts that can contribute to a solution and no one gift is better than another, courage, friendship, loyalty, and trust. I'm sure there's probably more.
What we didn't like: I'm not sure I can say anything I didn't like about the book. Usually I can think of something.....nope. Nothing. We thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very much within our taste. You'll have to judge for yourself if it would be within yours.
As far as reading levels go as a guess I think its best suited for the 4th-6th grade students. Younger than that and I think the length of the book will become a challenge. Older than 6th grade may still enjoy the book but may find it a little juvenile. I believe the main character is 11 or 12.
So, if you're looking for some fun, entertaining literature for your kid(s), you may want to look into this one. We enjoyed it so much, we bought the second book on audio for the drive home! (We also enjoyed that one very much.)
Disclaimer: While the link to the book takes you to the Amazon.com listing, my intention is only to refer you to the book and not to endorse Amazon.com. I receive(d) no compensation from Amazon.com or the author for the mention or review of this material.)