After it was recommended dozens of times, I finally read The Mysterious Benedict and I wish I had read it sooner! This is a special book, packed with great characters, suspense, and some wonderful puzzles.
The Mysterious Benedict is about four students who respond to a newspaper ad for “gifted children looking for special opportunities.” They end up infiltrating a school in order to bring down an evil genius.
There are some dark moments, and our heroes face authentic danger, so I’d say upper-elementary is an appropriate age range (although I’m sure there are younger kids who might enjoy it). The book is also on the long side, clocking in at 477 pages.
Diversity Within Giftedness
You won’t have to read too far to notice this books’ emphasis on diversity within the gifted population. We get male, female, young, old, small and large people across ethnicities who are all clearly gifted.
Beyond physical characteristics, the four children show that gifted kids can have vastly different strengths:
- Reynard is a strong leader who empathizes with others
- Sticky has a photographic memory and works problems out by brute force
- Kate is a kinesthetic kid with novel approaches to problems
- Constance has a way with words far beyond her age
Their diverse abilities emphasize teamwork, self-understanding, and respect for others, and open up some great potential discussions about gifted stereotypes.
Consider using Gardener’s multiple intelligences to dig into characters’ and students’ talents. Discuss the importance of teaming up with people who have different abilities, rather than working with a team of similar people.
This is the first of five in the Mysterious Benedict series. I’ve only just started the second book, but judging from the Amazon reviews, it looks like the other books are winners as well!
Have you read “The Mysterious Benedict Society” with your students or children? What did you do with it? How did your kids like it? Shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @IanAByrd
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