The extraordinary education of Nicholas Benedict - Stewart, Trenton Lee
Summary: Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict, an orphan afflicted with an unfortunate nose and with narcolepsy, is sent to a new orphanage where he encounters vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances, and a mystery that could change his life forever.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Nicholas Benedict, brilliant narcoleptic mentor of the eccentric, puzzle-loving Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society, rev. 3/07; and sequels), is here the focus of a story set in his own childhood. Bounced to yet another orphanage, nine-year-old Nicholas discovers a mystery to be solved but also a gang called the Spiders who bully and humiliate him. Well, they try to: with his powers of observation and prodigious intellect, Nicholas stays one jump ahead of them while he and John, his only friend, race the grasping orphanage director to find the hidden treasure they hope will rescue them from orphanage life. Stewart balances the elements of his story beautifully, using the mystery puzzle to drive the plot while heightening tension through encounters with the Spiders and deepening the tenderness by following Nicholas's emotional development. Stewart handicaps the advantage of Nicholas's almost superhuman intellect by challenging him with uncontrollable narcolepsy and the unfolding realization that even his genius is susceptible to being led astray by his feelings. It is this very human, very relatable realization that really opens up the story after a chance encounter at the climax, leading to the kind of entirely earned, feel-good ending that Mysterious Benedict Society fans have come to expect (and love) from master storyteller Stewart. anita l. burkam Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.