Reviews for Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #1
*Starred Review* Meet Nicholas Benedict, a skinny nine-year-old orphan with a lumpy nose, an extraordinary intellect, and an inconvenient tendency to fall asleep when he is excited. Newly arrived at his latest orphanage (Rothchild's End, ominously shortened to 'Child's End), Nicholas quickly learns to avoid the Spiders (a gang of bullies) as best he can. Meanwhile, he secretly searches for the treasure rumored to be hidden in the dilapidated mansion and finds a couple of steadfast friends. With courage and ingenuity, he solves the mystery at the heart of the orphanage and even sets in motion a plan to defang the Spiders. This prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society (2007) gives readers a reason to fall in love with the series all over again. Fans of the series will find here much that they loved in the opening volume: adventures, danger, cleverness, dry wit, and good-hearted characters at the center of the action. The novel is long, true, but many readers will find themselves reluctant to reach the end; and while Stewart leaves an opening for sequels about Nicholas as a child, this invigorating novel stands on its own. Two hundred years after Dickens' birth, this orphan story plays notes in a familiar key but creates its own memorable tune. HIGH DEMAND BACK STORY: The popularity of The Mysterious Benedict Society and its sequels provides a built-in audience for this. Name recognition! Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
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.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 April

Gr 4-8--The childhood of the brilliant and kindhearted leader of The Mysterious Benedict Society is fleshed out in this prequel to the popular series. Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict is shuffled to yet another orphanage where he's sure to be teased for his intellect, disruptive nightmares, and struggle with narcolepsy. Sure enough, the resident gang makes him their latest target. Mr. Collum, the orphanage director, singles Nicholas out because of his night terrors and locks him in the attic each evening. After creating his own skeleton key in metal-working class, he begins sneaking out after dark to take solace in the library. He cannot resist entering Mr. Collum's locked office, where he finds the former director's diary, which describes a secret treasure room. This is the opportunity that Nicholas has been waiting for: a chance for the kind of financial freedom that will protect him from tyrannical adults and dim-witted bullies forever. While children new to the series, might get mired down by the amount of detail, fans will be thrilled with the rich backstory of a beloved character.--Alison O'Reilly, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY

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