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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Review of the Day: The Mysterious Benedict Society (Part Two)


(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)

In terms of the sequel, one person I discussed the book with said of it, "I don’t feel I need to go back to that world." I agree, in a way. Stewart wraps up his loose ends nicely. Unlike some series for kids, you aren’t left with many holes or gaps in the plot. There is certainly room for a follow-up, but if you don’t read it you won’t feel you’ve missed something. The important thing to remember is that clever kids like clever tales. For children who like everything from "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin to The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, by Eric Berlin, this is the book for them. Consistently fun and fine, the book whizzes through its 400+ pages so fast that you’ll be shocked at how quickly you find yourself at the end.

Notes on the Book Flap: I love that there’s a Morse Code message hidden on the flaps.  Of course, if any child looses the cover, they won’t be able to solve the mystery on the final page of the book.  Hopefully that will not happen often.

Notes on the Cover:  Whoo-boy.  All right now this… this is a problem.  On the outset it looks like a pretty cool cover, right?  The illustrations both here and inside are done by one Carson Ellis, who has drawn album covers for bands like The Decemberists n’ such.  That is all well and good.  So I’m admiring the cover when I notice something.  Maybe this got changed in subsequent printings of the book but if so they certainly haven’t changed it anywhere online.  I am referring to the character of Sticky Washington.  Sticky has dark skin in the book.  Now look on the cover.  It took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t seeing Sticky there.  I was, but they’ve bleached him out.  In short, they made Sticky white.  What on earth?  Now whose brilliant idea was this?  “Hey guys, about that kid who isn’t white?  Why don’t we just forget to color him in when we print the book?  That’s cool, right?”  Ye gods, this is an oversight!  Look at him!  He’s paler than Constance!  Talk about a bad jacket art move. For shame.

Other Blog Reviews (Proving That I Am the Last to See It): Kids Lit, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Becky’s Book Reviews, Chasing Ray, Pixie Stix Kids, Wands and Worlds, Semicolon, A Patchwork of Books, Outside of a Cat, Renee’s Book of the Day, Zubon Book Reviews, BC Books, Welcome to My Tweendom, Secret Fun Blog, Library and Literary Miscellany, Shalee’s Diner, So Many Books So Little Time, and many many more.

Web Reviews: Kidsreads.com, San Francisco Chronicle, and School Library Journal (of the audio version).

Misc:

  • I don’t tend to promote book websites (seems a bit like overkill if I do) but The Curiosity Chronicle is rather nicely done.  Kudos to the creators.


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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Felicity12 says:

    Hmm… on my book, Sticky has a dark head, dark hands, but a white forehead and chin.

  2. Fuse #8 says:

    Yep, the hands are dark and his skull looks like it has a five o’ clock shadow. But the rest of his face, the first part you look at, makes him look like no one so much as the comedian John Hodgman.

  3. mr says:

    I’ve been seeing this one around and wondering if I should read it . . . now I’ll check it out . . . thanks!

    p.s. Happy Fiorello’s birthday! ;-)

  4. Lisa C. says:

    I see the appeal for Westing Game and Winston Breen fans, too. Still, I can’t help wishing it was shorter, and I think it could have been without much sacrifice. When the first 20% of the book (estimating — I don’t have it in front of me) is spent on the testing, before any real action starts…? Also, statements like “children consider their ages every bit as important as their names” drive me crazy, because who are they meant for? Children already know this, he tells us, so apparently he’s informing adult readers? It seems condescending to me. :-P I enjoyed the book fairly well, but I doubt I’ll be talking it up much at the library.

  5. Miriam says:

    I started to read it. I think I got about halfway through, maybe a little more. When I realized I kept wishing I was further along, or that the book would move faster, I decided I wasn’t loving it enough to read over 400 pages. I’m mildly curious to know what happens, but I’m content to either not know or to wait until I have nothing else that I want to read more. I liked the four main characters (really wanted to know Constance’s story), but the writing style didn’t quite work for me.

  6. Fuse #8 says:

    Interesting! Call it the Mysterious Benedict Society backlash, if you will. I rarely review books that have been out longer than a month, so this is all quite fascinating to me. I actually didn’t notice the length, but y’all are not the first I’ve heard from who felt that the narrative couldn’t sustain the length. I don’t suppose it helps matters any to say that the next one is even longer, does it?

  7. Lisa C. says:

    “I don’t suppose it helps matters any to say that the next one is even longer, does it?”

    *grooaaaannn…*

  8. baldwin says:

    Many say that this book moves along slowly, but in a way isn’t that a good thing? It tests your patience along with the commitment to the story. I love the agony of not knowing what’s next even if the story is dragging along, it adds to the suspense.

  9. gurl212121 says:

    ya’ll are plumb crazy. This book was written for children and if you are lucky to be an incredibly imaginative adult that can quickly transport themselves back to the days of jumping in piles of raked leaves and sword fighting with paper towel roles than you are an adult who will enjoy this book. If not you are boring and Constance would most certainly compose a poem about your empty mind.

  10. booklover200 says:

    i agree. this book is amazing!!! all my friends have read it, along w the 2nd and 3rd book. i enjoy the begining, you know, the part about the test bc it shows you just how smart the kids are. it really intoduces them to you, an important element in books.

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