By Trenton Lee Stewart, published 2008
“The children took off, hurrying away from the castle. Down, down along the twisting cobbled street, weaving through pedestrians, crossing tiled plazas, down and down to where the street grew still more narrow and began to branch off into…alleyways.”
Think James Bond, non-stop action, fights, captures, escapes, but no one getting killed, and you have a bird’s eye view of book 2 of the Mysterious Benedict Society. Perhaps I’m getting braver as I read each children’s book for myself, but I do admit that in days past, I might not have been able to recommend this one, being somewhat sensitive. Yet, it is a great children’s book. It’s exciting. It’s well written. The good guys win. The code of ethics against doing harm is strong. While it may not be recommended for particularly sensitive children, it’s a great action book, especially for boys who need a reason to read.
The four children who are the lead stars in this children’s book account for a great deal of the book’s appeal. They are clever, likable, and work as a team, with each one bringing their own unique character traits, strengths, and weaknesses. From the start, we want them to succeed, no matter what. Success is always almost in reach, then out of reach again, contributing to the rather hefty size (440 pages) of this book. Yet it never drags.
I still dislike the ominous characters and machinations of the bad guys. But most of their bad work is ‘off-stage’ so to speak, so it’s not like it’s in your face, just in your awareness. There’s a good deal of flash back to the first book, so it’s not essential to have read the firs book, but it does make it more interesting to start with book 1. There are two more books in the series, and I personally plan to read them as well.