Booklist: The Mysterious Benedict Society and other Quirky Kids

The Mysterious Benedict Society was one of our top-rated books in the Summer Reading Program this year.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”
When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. In the end, just four will succeed. Their challenge: to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.  Can they survive, uncover a mystery, and save the world?

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If you’re also a reader who likes quirky kid characters, creepy clues, strange schools and/or mysterious missions, you’re sure to like at least one of these books. They’re guaranteed to keep you on your toes! (and most of them have sequels, as well.)

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Balliet, Blue.  Chasing Vermeer
When a series of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen.  Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one is spared from suspicion. Together, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer to decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI!

Barry, Dave.  Science Fair
Grdankl the Strong, president of Kprshtskan, is plotting to take over the American government by infiltrating the science fair at Hubble Middle School. The rich kids at Hubble cheat by buying their projects every year, and Grdankl’s cronies should have no problem selling them his government-corrupting software. But this year, normal kid Toby is determined to win the prize-even if he has to go up against terrorists to do it.  What transpires is a hilarious adventure filled with mystery, suspense, and levitating frogs.

Berlin, Eric.  The Puzzling World of Winston Breen
When his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, Winston Breen is stumped. Soon the whole family—and some friends—are caught up in the mystery and off on a scavenger hunt that just may lead to a ring worth thousands of dollars! Chock-full of puzzles to solve—some tied to the mystery and some not—this treasure hunt will keep readers’ brains teased right up to the exciting ending.

Bode, N. E.  The Slippery Map
Oyster R. Motel has dreamed of another world for almost his whole life. Oyster didn’t even know that imaginations could be mapped; he barely knew he had an imagination. When  a gust of wind and a distant voice send him on a dizzying ride in a silver bucket, Oyster finds himself  in someone else‘s imaginary world. Whose world is it? And what does it have to do with Oyster’s own map?  Follow the clues, and find out!

Bosch, Pseudonomous.  The Name of This Book is Secret
This is the story about a secret. but it also contains a secret story.  When adventurous detectives Cass, an ever-vigilant survivalist, and Max-Ernest, a boy driven by logic, discover a box filled with smelly vials of colorful ingredients, they accidentally stumble upon a mystery surrounding a dead magician’s diary and the hunt for immortality.

Broach, Elise.  Shakespeare’s Secret
Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, Hero isn’t at all interested in this literary connection. But when she’s told by an eccentric neighbor that there might be a million dollar diamond hidden in her new house and that it could reveal something about Shakespeare’s true identity, Hero is determined to live up to her name and uncover the mystery.

Hawking, Stephen.  George’s Secret Key to the Universe
George’s parents, wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbors: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time, and the universe. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie, and Eric aren’t about to find out.

Helgerson, Joseph.  Horns and Wrinkles
How can you tell if a river’s under a spell? River trolls, rock trolls, blue-wing fairies—the usual suspects. The stretch of the Mississippi where Claire lives has rumors of them all, not that she’s ever spotted any. But then Claire’s cousin Duke takes a swim and sprouts a horn—a long, pointy, handsome thing. After that, Claire doesn’t have much choice but to believe that something rivery is going on, especially since she’s the only one who can help Duke lose his new addition.

Higgins, F. E.  The Black Book of Secrets
Ludlow is running from a terrible past. He arrives in a village and finds a safe place to live, and a mysterious pawnbroker, who trades people’s deepest, darkest secrets for cash. Ludlow yearns to trust his new mentor, who refuses to disclose any information on his past experiences or future intentions. What the pawnbroker does not know is that in a town brimming with secrets, the most troubling may be held by his new apprentice.

Hulme, John.  The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep
Becker Drane is selected for the best job in the world: being a Fixer at The Seems. The Seems, unbeknownst to humans, is the company responsible for building the world we live in and includes the Departments of Weather, Time, and Sleep. Becker lives in the earthly world until he’s called upon for his first Fixer mission: to fix a glitch in the Department of Sleep. If Becker doesn’t find a Fix fast, he just might lose the coolest job ever—and The World will lose a lot more than a good night’s sleep.

Jones, Diana Wynne.  Witch Week
When an anonymous note warns, “Someone in this class is a witch,” the students in 6B are nervous — especially the boy who’s just discovered that he can cast spells and the girl who was named after the most famous witch of all. Someone in the class is a witch. Everyone is only too eager to prove it is someone else — because in this society, witches are burnt at the stake. Can the kids in 6B work together to figure out the mystery—and protect their classmates—before someone is in real trouble?

Korman, Gordon. Swindle
After a mean collector cons him out of a valuable baseball card, Griffin Bing puts together a band of misfits to recapture the card. There are many things standing in their way — a menacing guard dog, a high-tech security system, a very secret hiding place, and their inability to drive — but Griffin and his team are going to get back what’s rightfully his!

Landy, Derek.  Skulduggery Pleasant
When Stephanie’s eccentric uncle dies, a mysterious man shows up at the funeral. The man is Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking, talking skeleton who rescues Stephanie when she is attacked in her new home. Stephanie is swept into a world of magic, secrets, and intrigue as they try to keep one step ahead of the evil character searching for something her uncle left her. She eagerly jumps into this new, dangerous, action-packed life, but Stephanie isn’t sure that she has the guts or the power to pull it off.

Law, Ingrid.  Savvy
For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a “savvy”—a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity . . . and now it’s the eve of Mibs’s big day.  Two days before Mibs’s birthday Poppa is in a terrible accident. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up—and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.

Lowry, Lois.  The Willoughbys
Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children. The four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. Replete with a tongue-in-cheek glossary and bibliography, this hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children’s literature.

Raskin, Ellen.  The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel)
During a sailing trip, Leon (who has changed his name to Noel), falls overboard. He shouts a message to the wife he hasn’t seen in years, which is partially obscured by his going underwater: “Noel(glub) see (blub) all… I (glub) new…” When she recovers in the hospital and learns that her husband has checked out with no further news, Mrs. Carillon is convinced the answer to his whereabouts are contained in the mysterious message. She spends years trying to interpret the “glub-blubs”, eventually enlisting her adopted twin children, Tony and Tina, and childhood friend, Augie Kunkel. Will they figure out the clues and find Leon (I mean Noel)?

Reeve, Philip.  Larklight
Art and his sister Myrtle live with their father at Larklight, their home beyond the Moon. In this alternate Victorian era, Britain controls not only most of Earth—including the American colonies—but also Venus, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter. When giant spiders attack their home and their father disappears, the siblings are tossed onto a lifeboat and float through the ether until they are rescued by young space pirate with a grudge against the Empire. This Victorian Star Wars trio hurtles through space battling robots, aliens, and a loony scientist.

Reisman, Michael.  Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
Simon Bloom can’t believe his luck when he finds a book that enables him to control the laws of physics. By simply reciting the formulas it contains, he can cancel gravity to fly around his bedroom, or decrease friction so he can slide down the street as if he were on Rollerblades. When two thugs with evil intentions come after Simon, he and his friends must use the formulas to save himself and the book from falling into their hands.

Rex, Adam.  The True Meaning of Smekday
When Gratuity Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending? Maybe when bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and aliens abducted her mother? Or when the aliens renamed Earth “Smekland” and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida? In any case, Gratuity’s story is much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade alien mechanic, a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Ruby, Laura.  The Wall and the Wing
A few, nicknamed leadfeet, are forced to forever spend their lives closer to the ground. But one night, a girl named Gurl—a leadfoot, an orphan, a nobody—discovers that she can do something much better than fly.  She can become invisible. Along with a new friend Bug, Gurl begins a quest that takes her on a wild ride through the magical city, all the way to the handsome but lethal Sweetcheeks Grabowski—the gangster who holds the key to Gurl’s past . . . and the world’s future.

Thompson, Kate.  The New Policeman
There never seems to be enough time in Kinvara, or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter. When J.J.’s mother says time’s what she really wants for her birthday, J.J. decides to find her some. He’s set himself up for an impossible task . . . until a neighbor reveals a secret. There’s a place where time stands still.  J.J. can make the journey there, but he’ll have to vanish from his own life to do so. Can J.J. find the leak between the two worlds? Will a shocking rumor about his family’s past come back to haunt him? And what does it all have to do with the village’s new policeman . . . ?

Wilson, D. W.  The 100 Cupboards
Henry York wakes up one night to find bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall above his bed and one of them is slowly turning! Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room–with a man pacing back and forth! Henry soon understands that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds…

Whitehouse, Howard.  The Strictest School in the World
Aviatrix Emmaline Cayley is afraid of one thing: plummeting to her doom. Fortunately her friend Robert is not. But before Emmaline can perfect a flying machine with the aid of her new friend, she is sent off to St. Grimelda’s School for Young Ladies. With a horrifying headmistress, terrifying teachers and horrible food, this medieval stronghold also houses a terrible secret and a mysterious way of keeping students in line. All Emmaline can think of is escape. But no one has ever escaped from St. Grimelda’s. And our heroine soon realizes that the only way out is to face her greatest fear …

Young, E. L.  STORM: The Infinity Code
is the name of the ambitious organization formed by the story’s three brainiac kids: Will, the loner, inventive genius, and creator of cutting-edge gadgets. Andrew, the software whiz-kid, millionaire, and fashion disaster. Gaia, the brilliant and mysterious teen chemist, fluent in French, Italian, Mandarin, and blowing stuff up. When the group uncovers a plot to create a deadly revolutionary weapon, the three race from England to Russia, determined not only to find and dismantle the weapon, but to confront the psychopathic scientist behind it all.

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So put on your thinking cap, grab a pen and pencil for your backpack, and try one of these books!



2 thoughts on “Booklist: The Mysterious Benedict Society and other Quirky Kids

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « BellaOnBooks's Blog

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