Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

Cover image for The extraordinary education of Nicholas BenedictNicholas Benedict is the adult leader and mentor of The Mysterious Benedict Society in the series of the same name.  This prequel to that series answers the question, "What about Nicholas Benedict; where did he come from and what was it like for him growing up with narcolepsy?" The story starts when Nicholas is a 9 year old orphan with amazing intellect and an interesting disability. He has narcolepsy which makes him go to sleep whenever he has strong emotions.  He also has a photographic memory and an IQ that is off the charts.  His disability and his intelligence make  him a target for bullies and he has spent his whole life in one orphanage after another, just trying to get by.  As the book starts Nicholas is moving to a new orphanage, full of hope that this one will be different and he can make a new start.  On his first day there he does find a new friend, but he also angers the local bullies, the "Spiders".  Nicholas soon discovers that there is a lost treasure to be found at the orphanage.  Along with his one friend, he must outsmart the Spiders while he and John search for clues to the whereabouts of the treasure. I enjoyed the first three books about the Mysterious Benedict Society, but I think I like this one best of all.  In the other books there is a super-villain who is trying to take over the world with a strange and amazing machine.  It is a fun story, but not at all realistic.  In this book there is nothing fantastical, just a really smart boy using his brain to solve problems in his life.  My favorite thing about the story is that Nicholas gradually decides to take charge of his life, stop being a victim and start looking beyond himself to help others. Although this is the 4th book in the series, the storyline is not connected to the other three and it works fine to read it as a stand alone, before the others, or after the other three. (470 p).

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