Mysterious Bendedict Society

Last updated Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrator: Carson Ellis
Date of Publication: 2008
ISBN: 9780316003957
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2010

Synopsis: Kids who are itching for a boarding-school-set fantasy-adventure in between visits to Hogwarts might pleasantly pass the time listening to this quirky tale, which is narrated with panache and a tone of childlike curiosity by Roy. When an ad reading "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" appears in a local paper, it's hard for many children to resist. But only four out of dozens pass the rigorous mind-bending tests that prove they are special and talented enough to undertake a mysterious mission at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (as assigned by narcoleptic benefactor Mr. Benedict). Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance band together using their unique gifts (be it for photographic memory, puzzle-solving or acrobatics) to uncover the dastardly plot of the Learning Institute's founder, Ledroptha Curtain. Roy's voice, masculine and scratchy, but able to reach a youthful high pitch, is an enjoyable companion for the four protagonist's exploits. Though some of Mr. Curtain's plans sound preposterously convoluted, they are humorously so. Listeners are rewarded when all wraps up nicely by program's end. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover, what do you see?
•  What do you think this story is about?
•  Have you ever been a member of a club or secret society? Did your club have a secret handshake, secret code, etc.?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you know what an orphanage is? How is living there hard on Reynie?
•  Do you ever read the newspaper? Why is reading the newspaper helpful?
•  Reynie dressed miss-matched for good luck. Is there anything you do for good luck before a test, game or performance?
•  Are you brave? How do you know?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a secret code. Write the alphabet in a straight line. Under each letter, write a number or symbol--this is a key to your code. The number or symbol equals the letter in the alphabet. Write a note to your friend in the secret code. Make sure they have the key, too! This is a craft/activity you can do in pairs -- both can create the code and have the key.
•  Based on the descriptions in the book, draw a picture of Rhonda Kazembie, Reynie, Sticky Washington, and/or Kate Wetherall.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!