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The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

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Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumsta Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances – and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he does have one thing in his favor: He's a a genius. On his quest to solve the mystery, Nicholas finds enemies around every corner, but also friends in unexpected places – and discovers along the way that the greatest puzzle of all is himself.


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Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumsta Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict has more problems than most children his age. Not only is he an orphan with an unfortunate nose, but he also has narcolepsy, a condition that gives him terrible nightmares and makes him fall asleep at the worst possible moments. Now he's being sent to a new orphanage, where he will encounter vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances – and a mystery that could change his life forever. Luckily, he does have one thing in his favor: He's a a genius. On his quest to solve the mystery, Nicholas finds enemies around every corner, but also friends in unexpected places – and discovers along the way that the greatest puzzle of all is himself.

30 review for The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

  1. 4 out of 5

    Clare Cannon

    Perhaps even more enjoyable than the Mysterious Benedict Society; I really liked the young Nicholas Benedict and his adventures at a new orphanage. It almost felt like I was back at Hogwarts. There's something captivating about following a new kid at a big, old fashioned school that is part fascinating and part scary, part welcoming and part awe-inspiring. Add to that some down-to-earth friends, some plotting enemies, some ambiguous teachers and some mysterious predecessors (who've planted a Perhaps even more enjoyable than the Mysterious Benedict Society; I really liked the young Nicholas Benedict and his adventures at a new orphanage. It almost felt like I was back at Hogwarts. There's something captivating about following a new kid at a big, old fashioned school that is part fascinating and part scary, part welcoming and part awe-inspiring. Add to that some down-to-earth friends, some plotting enemies, some ambiguous teachers and some mysterious predecessors (who've planted a treasure) and I'm under the spell. I really do like Nicholas. In this book he goes from being a good person to becoming an even better person (I cried by the end). I found it impressive that this change was inspired by seeing the striking goodness of a particular adult, and to me this seemed novel for a children's book. Nicholas also makes 'super intelligence' look like so much fun. You can't help but want to imitate him with his extraordinary memory, his astuteness in observing things and tuning in to detail, and his capacity for detecting what other people need. There is some realistic friendship development, particularly with one boy who sometimes lacks the courage to stand up for his friend for fear of drawing the attention of the baddies to himself. But once he faces his weakness he is able to overcome it, and the friendship becomes deeper than before. And the story conveys a profound appreciation for the treasure of books, especially with Nicholas' talent for reading a large one in 10 mins and memorising the entire thing! Don't I wish... www.GoodReadingGuide.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    A delightful, heartwarming, and spirited story. In The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, a brilliant but lonely orphaned boy discovers an intriguing puzzle and ultimately finds friendship and purpose as he tries to solve it. Nicholas Benedict is only nine years old, but he has many times more intelligence, curiosity, and resourcefulness than most adults ever attain. But even at such a young age, he’s had a disappointing and difficult life. He’s been passed from one orphanage to anoth A delightful, heartwarming, and spirited story. In The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, a brilliant but lonely orphaned boy discovers an intriguing puzzle and ultimately finds friendship and purpose as he tries to solve it. Nicholas Benedict is only nine years old, but he has many times more intelligence, curiosity, and resourcefulness than most adults ever attain. But even at such a young age, he’s had a disappointing and difficult life. He’s been passed from one orphanage to another, and life has only ever dealt him hard knocks, injustice, and misfortune. His brilliant mind and memory often get him into trouble, even though it also helps him find ways out of it. And people, as well as life, have never failed to let him down. He believes that people, especially adults, can’t be trusted, and that relying on himself, and himself alone, is the only way to survive. So he remains independent and constantly on guard against a world that is out to get him. But despite this disillusionment and difficult life experience, young Nicholas retains an irrepressible, cheerful, wondering, observant, unfailingly optimistic, and lively spirit. He doesn’t let hardship, or anything else, get him down or make him despair, even when life constantly conspires against him. And he continues to fight and wiggle his way out of each unfortunate situation he encounters. But that spirit is hard to maintain, and he must fight for it. And when everything he’s worked for and hoped in comes crashing down, his endurance and spirit are tested beyond what he’s weathered in the past. *** I’ve been a massive a fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society from a young age, starting just after the first book was released. I have fond memories of my excitement when each successive book was released. These books were the first books I bought with my own money, and the first that were an automatic buy as soon as they were published. I was a little older when the prequel, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, was published--a young teen instead of a middle-grader. But reading it for the first time was a magical experience. I think I understood the depth, the themes, and the characters in a more powerful way than I would have as a child--though I don’t think it would be lost on a thoughtful child, so maybe I’d have appreciated it just as much. I loved this book just as much as the first Mysterious Benedict Society book--which is one of my top few favorite books of all time. I still love both books just as much as I did when I was a kid, and I appreciate the masterful writing, plot, character development, themes, and everything else even more than I used to. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is very different from the main series. Unlike the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy, prequel lacks the author’s trademark hint of fantasy, futuristic, or dystopian elements in a setting that feels contemporary and modern. Instead, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict reads much like a gentle, classic historical fiction novel about a past decade, in the writing style, characters, setting, and events. But though quiet, thoughtful, and cheerful, Nicholas’s story is engaging, fascinating, and entertaining. I’ve never met a fan of the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy--child, teen or adult--who didn’t enjoy the prequel just as much--or more!--than the others in the series. It’s fascinating and wonderful to see an iconic character from the trilogy grow up as a young boy--and to see the influences and qualities that made him the great man he is as an adult. Nicholas and his story are delightful, sweet, and charming--and very, very touching, and bittersweet as well as joyful. There’s an element of intrigue and slight mystery, which is so fun, and it keeps the plot moving steadily. The depth of emotion and theme are more powerful because of the understated, skilled writing. And the character development is amazing! I love watching NIcholas grow and discover the truth about himself and the world. His personality and character are so winning and fascinating that they make the book amazing. And each of the supporting characters is lifelike and well-developed, as well--even ones who only appear briefly. *** One scene of this book made me cry the first time I read it. It’s rare for me to cry in books, and it was unheard-of for me back then. I only cry real tears if I’m deeply, deeply moved, and if it takes me totally by surprise. It helps if it reminds me of something heartbreaking in real life, personal or distant. But I don’t cry when I’m expecting it. Except that I did cry in the same chapter during this last reread! I knew it was coming. I’ve remembered all this time what I felt when I cried that first time, years ago. But it still moved me so much that I cried again. Because that chapter broke my heart and healed it in the same moment, both times. It’s a wonderful climax to a bittersweetly touching book. I love the scenes of Nicholas and his loneliness and introspection. And I love the scenes of him making friends for the first time, deep, true friendships. Those things touch me and move me, as does the part when he loses everything. But the chapter that moves me most, and made me cry, is one near the end, “The Kindness of Strangers.” The protagonist is disillusioned and world-weary at nine years old, and he trusts no one and only relies on himself. He believes the world is a cruel place in which no one will help someone they don’t know. And then a chance encounter changes his life, restores his hope and ideals. It shows him that there are good, caring, and decent people in the world, and that he can be one too. That he can trust someone other than himself. That “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for,” to quote Lord of the Rings in a cheesy way. That’s why this book made me cry years ago and again this month, and why it still continues to move me just as much several rereads later. There is so much more goodness in this book, but that chapter seems especially significant to me, even though it’s different than the rest of the book, and removed from it. *** It’s so wonderful to read such a sweet, wholesome book that can be enjoyed equally well by all ages. It’s a juvenile fiction novel, but it’s mature and deep, so teens and adults can appreciate it just as much as middle-grade readers. I highly recommend The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict to fans of historical fiction or of the main series. And I recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society to anyone who enjoys quality juvenile fiction with a slight hint of futuristic and fantasy elements. And really, to all people!! It’s my favorite juvenile fiction novel by a recent author, which I do not say lightly--it’s fabulous in every way, and I love this prequel just as much as the original.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ☆ Mira ✷

    I distinctly remember being OBSESSED with the Mysterious Benedict Society series 9 years ago and harassing my school librarian for weeks about whether the library had received the third book yet. I never read this prequel, though, and I'm so glad I did this week!! I'd describe it as a mystery set in an edgier, less wand waving version of Hogwarts. 10/10 need to reread the whole series for childhood nostalgia and giggles

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karis

    I now completely understand the rave about this series. Completely! Right now I’m writing this review rubbing my grainy eyes after staying up quite beyond my bedtime to finish this book—it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been so “lost in a book” that I just had to finish it before going to sleep. I’m not sure where to even begin in reviewing this book. Nicholas’s character is just perfectly written. Little things I enjoyed about his character were the way his “big words” flowed so naturally into h I now completely understand the rave about this series. Completely! Right now I’m writing this review rubbing my grainy eyes after staying up quite beyond my bedtime to finish this book—it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been so “lost in a book” that I just had to finish it before going to sleep. I’m not sure where to even begin in reviewing this book. Nicholas’s character is just perfectly written. Little things I enjoyed about his character were the way his “big words” flowed so naturally into his speech, his quiet thoughtfulness, his occasional deadpan humor that he uses with his friends and catches them off guard—all those things and yet they wouldn’t have made me completely respect him if the author hadn’t done yet another incredible ending which seamlessly bridged Nicholas’s character from his survival sort of mindset as an orphan in this novel to the other-centered and caring man that he is in The Mysterious Benedict Society. The writing itself was a huge breath of fresh air for a book lover like myself. The descriptive metaphors used, how the author quietly through Nicholas’s observant and cheerful eyes creates character sketches that are so truth-revealing and human. And at times just the author’s ability to capture a moment of raw emotion from one of his characters—honestly, there were times while I was reading this book that I caught my breath or set down the book to just take it in. Maybe the plot was simpler than The Mysterious Benedict Society, but I was enjoying the book too much to really care. All the elements I enjoyed from the first book were beautifully duplicated in this one without the more eerie elements that held me back from fully loving the first. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict—5 stars and great anticipation for a re-read later this year

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I met Trenton Lee Stewart after a concert in central Arkansas several years ago. It was a funny experience because I had not read much of the Mysterious Benedict Society (if any of it) and I knew he was famous for it but couldn't think of anything to say to him. I wanted to smack my forehead afterward because it was silly to have a chance to rub shoulders with a literary celebrity but waste the opportunity by several moments of silence. Anyway. I read the MBS series and thought they were good. A I met Trenton Lee Stewart after a concert in central Arkansas several years ago. It was a funny experience because I had not read much of the Mysterious Benedict Society (if any of it) and I knew he was famous for it but couldn't think of anything to say to him. I wanted to smack my forehead afterward because it was silly to have a chance to rub shoulders with a literary celebrity but waste the opportunity by several moments of silence. Anyway. I read the MBS series and thought they were good. A little hard to get into sometimes, but my sons love them and have read them multiple times. But then they persuaded me to set aside my grownup fare and read THIS book, insisting it was Stewart's best yet. I read the first chapter and found that I couldn't put it down. It has a narrative pace that is much more compelling than the MBS books. Its characters are more real. Its plot has neatly executed intricacies that satisfy. Its message is uplifting and inspiring. I agree with my sons -- this is Trenton Lee Stewart's best work thus far! And now if I were to meet him again, I would have plenty to say to him, including to express my hope that it has been submitted to the Newbery committee. It is every bit as good as Louis Sachar's "Holes"; in fact I like it even more because of its power to make me want to be better, kinder -- to use my gifts to help those I care about, like Nicholas Benedict.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I don't know what it is about these Benedict books, but they make me feel like a kid again more than any other children's books I've read as an adult. I get wrapped up in them the same way I used to with my favorites back in elementary school. It's a really nice place to visit. That said, as much as I enjoyed learning Nicholas Benedict's early history, this book flagged so much in the middle third that I almost gave it up. I skimmed a lot because I didn't feel the clues were building fast enough I don't know what it is about these Benedict books, but they make me feel like a kid again more than any other children's books I've read as an adult. I get wrapped up in them the same way I used to with my favorites back in elementary school. It's a really nice place to visit. That said, as much as I enjoyed learning Nicholas Benedict's early history, this book flagged so much in the middle third that I almost gave it up. I skimmed a lot because I didn't feel the clues were building fast enough towards a resolution - I needed a little less exposition, a little more action. I did like where the story ended up, however predictably, and I felt Nicholas's own self-revelations were as significant as the solution to the mystery. He was kind of an irritating, smug little bastard for a lot of the book, and I appreciated his ability to reflect upon that with satisfying conclusions. While Nicholas's insane genius can be alienating and occasionally comes off as a mere plot contrivance (really? You picked up sign language in two seconds? Okay), I do like him as a model for how to stand up to bullies and use your nerderific powers for good. I'm sure it's encouraging to kids who get picked on for being different or "too" smart, and there's some practical advice in there as well. Will we get to meet Nicholas as a teenager next? Now that, I'd like to see.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Marie

    The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is indeed a most extraordinary book that I loved from the beginning and one that I will definitely read again. It's a very enjoyable, fun, easy to follow piece of literature that readers young and old will love. This wonderful story has kept me up into late hours of the night, and early hours of morning, urging me to keep on turning the pages because I didn't want to put it down. All the characters felt real and present, my favourite definitely be The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is indeed a most extraordinary book that I loved from the beginning and one that I will definitely read again. It's a very enjoyable, fun, easy to follow piece of literature that readers young and old will love. This wonderful story has kept me up into late hours of the night, and early hours of morning, urging me to keep on turning the pages because I didn't want to put it down. All the characters felt real and present, my favourite definitely being Nicholas; the nine-year old orphaned genius boy with narcolepsy who can read a book in five minutes, fix pretty much anything, and get startled to sleep. I've never read a book before with someone like him in it, and I can't wait to read The Mysterious Benedict Society. I loved how everything turned out in the end and it was overall very satisfying, from the writing style, to the plot, and to the separate life and development of each character. I recommend this book to anybody and everybody. 4.5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mimi 'Pans' Herondale

    OH MY GOD! This book was exactly as I wanted it to be. I actually liked it better than I thought I would! Favorite characters: Nicholas and his two friends. I mean, the others were all mean and evil! I mean, usually I like villains, but this one was not one of my favorite characters! AND THE END WAS AMAZEBALLS! Oh my god, it was better than I would have thought! And the treasure was perfect. I am not going to tell you what and where it was, because that would be a spoiler, but to me it was perfect OH MY GOD! This book was exactly as I wanted it to be. I actually liked it better than I thought I would! Favorite characters: Nicholas and his two friends. I mean, the others were all mean and evil! I mean, usually I like villains, but this one was not one of my favorite characters! AND THE END WAS AMAZEBALLS! Oh my god, it was better than I would have thought! And the treasure was perfect. I am not going to tell you what and where it was, because that would be a spoiler, but to me it was perfect. And the plot, a orphan boy who when he reads he reads books in minutes and then remembers everything he reads? I MEAN, WHO WOULD NOT LOVE THAT!!?? That would be awesome. And his two friends were also great. OK, and that concludes my review of 'The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict'. I would recommend this book to humans ages 10 and up. It was a little long, but me being a speed reader I read it in about two hours straight!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Els

    I adored this, completely unsurprisingly, since this whole series has captured my heart. (I scored a 4-book hardcover set for $12, so no more forced borrowings. ;) Oh, and I also knew precisely what the treasure was on p. 154 (which also happens to be the first quote from Mr. Rothschild's diary) and knew precisely what happened to John on p. 370 (which also happens to be the first mention that anything has happened), so I think I'm starting to pick up even faster on TLS' plot devices - not that I adored this, completely unsurprisingly, since this whole series has captured my heart. (I scored a 4-book hardcover set for $12, so no more forced borrowings. ;) Oh, and I also knew precisely what the treasure was on p. 154 (which also happens to be the first quote from Mr. Rothschild's diary) and knew precisely what happened to John on p. 370 (which also happens to be the first mention that anything has happened), so I think I'm starting to pick up even faster on TLS' plot devices - not that that makes anything less fun!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Looking to find a new bed time author for my 11yo son, I came across this book and we devoured it. I am not sure who enjoyed out the most. Him listening to me or me reading it aloud. It is a wonderfully written book that gives a narrator duo much to work with. Yes, it is a bit wordy and could be 25% shorter, but hey! When you are reading to your children what's the point in finishing quickly and being asked to re-read something you've read a hundred times before? Selby or Dr Zeus anyone? Great st Looking to find a new bed time author for my 11yo son, I came across this book and we devoured it. I am not sure who enjoyed out the most. Him listening to me or me reading it aloud. It is a wonderfully written book that gives a narrator duo much to work with. Yes, it is a bit wordy and could be 25% shorter, but hey! When you are reading to your children what's the point in finishing quickly and being asked to re-read something you've read a hundred times before? Selby or Dr Zeus anyone? Great story and had my boy predicting out loud what he say as fore shadowing, which I was impressed with.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    4.5 stars This was my first time to read any of the Mysterious Benedict Society books and I had such a good time getting to know young Nicholas Benedict and his friends. Of course I particularly enjoyed how quickly he could devour and remember books and how much a facet of his character that is. Highly recommended for middle grades and up: even adults!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bella

    What an incredible journey that was. I am very glad to have made my way to Rothschild End. I hope that my further adventures with Nicholas, John and Violet will be just as intriguing and wonderful. This is a wonderful introduction into the series and a must read for anyone who is currently reading or has finished the series. Onward to the next one!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynette ~ Escaping Reality – One Book at a Time ~

    I cannot wait to read this book! I LOVE The Mysterious Benedict Society, and was SOOOO psyched when I learned that a new book was coming out. UPDATE: Simply put, I LOVED THIS BOOK.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Megan Kirby

    I love that Trenton Lee Stewart writes smart, complicated kid's books, but it's getting awkward to have to sneak onto the children's library floor each time he releases a new Benedict Society book. Extraordinary Education was so good, though, that it was totally worth the skeptical looks the librarians gave me when I clomped through reading time in my Doc Martens. This is the prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy, which I tore through last summer. Stewart reinvigorates a fairly stan I love that Trenton Lee Stewart writes smart, complicated kid's books, but it's getting awkward to have to sneak onto the children's library floor each time he releases a new Benedict Society book. Extraordinary Education was so good, though, that it was totally worth the skeptical looks the librarians gave me when I clomped through reading time in my Doc Martens. This is the prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy, which I tore through last summer. Stewart reinvigorates a fairly standard children's mystery plot with realistic characters, awesome wordplay and really, really solid writing. I was a little disappointed that Carson Ellis didn't do the illustrations this round, because her drawings added one more layer of depth to the other books in this series. Sudyka does a fine job-- people unfamiliar with Ellis' work might not even notice the shift-- but every time I came to a new chapter illustration I felt a pang akin to homesickness. Guess I'll have to move on to Wildwood to get my Ellis fix.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tarissa

    "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" makes an excellent example of creativity and ingenuity in an author's writing style. This book is actually the prequel to the "Mysterious Benedict Society" trilogy. You really must read the trilogy first, in order to catch all the little details hidden in the prequel. While we've so enjoyed the adventures and quests of Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance who form the Society --- and all of whom are very bright children that Mr. Benedict cultivate "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" makes an excellent example of creativity and ingenuity in an author's writing style. This book is actually the prequel to the "Mysterious Benedict Society" trilogy. You really must read the trilogy first, in order to catch all the little details hidden in the prequel. While we've so enjoyed the adventures and quests of Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance who form the Society --- and all of whom are very bright children that Mr. Benedict cultivates --- we finally get the chance to meet the boy himself, young Nicholas Benedict. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "Shall I tell you what I'm thinking, Mrs. Ferrier?" "Heavens no, Nicholas! That would take hours and we have only moments." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - With the prequel in hand, we can learn about Mr. Benedict's childhood --- about how he came to be the old man with narcolepsy, who uses a wheelchair, wears green plaid, and knows ever-so-many things. The entire back-story is finally revealed in a truly "extraordinary" way. Young Nicholas is a nine-year-old boy with a mind that works overtime. Sometimes it's a great asset, and sometimes he finds himself in trouble because of it. He's always thinking, reading, and trying to figure out the next puzzle of life. Starting over at yet another orphanage is always hard, but that's exactly where he's going... Rothschild's End, the place where he will find friendship, enemies with the Spiders, and an unexpected treasure hunt. All great elements for a good story to be told. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "He had plotted any number of different strategies (plotting strategies was the sort of thing Nicholas did when other children were playing jacks or Old Maid)..." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - I simple adore this book. It appealed to me on so many levels... the charm of a long-ago childhood, the love of libraries and books, the dreary orphanage holding so much potential within its walls, the wit found in tricky puzzles and clues, and the one boy who sees everything differently and can change it all. Complete with a few surprise twists now and then, to make sure you're awake. By the time I arrived at the last chapter, I felt so sad that I would have to finish it and part company with the characters within its pages. It's a book to laugh and cry over. "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict" is a book to cherish. This is the way an author writes a book that all ages can enjoy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Madilyn

    Star Rating: 4.5 stars Plot: It's about the life of young Mr. Benedict. We get to see how he handles being an outcast, what he does when terrible bullies make fun of him and threaten physical harm, and what he does when he finds out about a missing treasure that's somewhere in the orphanage. Characters: Nicholas: Awe! He's so cute! And amazingly smart, and a very dad reader. I wish I could read that fast. And a note about the other books in the series, I loved to see how all of the children (Reynie, Star Rating: 4.5 stars Plot: It's about the life of young Mr. Benedict. We get to see how he handles being an outcast, what he does when terrible bullies make fun of him and threaten physical harm, and what he does when he finds out about a missing treasure that's somewhere in the orphanage. Characters: Nicholas: Awe! He's so cute! And amazingly smart, and a very dad reader. I wish I could read that fast. And a note about the other books in the series, I loved to see how all of the children (Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance) all have some of the same characters he has. Nicholas is like all four of them rolled into one. John: I loved him, and how kind he was to Nicholas. I wish the Spiders would just leave him alone. But he seemed under appreciated. I wish Nicholas would have thanked him more for all the sacrifices he had to make. Violet: She's so kind! Willing to do just about anything to help Nick. Even give up her dream. The world needs more people like her. Opinion: I loved it! I really liked how much we get to hear about Mr. Benedict, and I think it helps to understand his character more in the other books. I did miss Reynie, Sticky, Constance, and Kate though. Recommendation: 11 and up maybe? I think it would go over younger kids' heads.

  17. 5 out of 5

    VL

    Having read the Mysterious Benedict Society, I always wanted to know the background of Nicholas Benedict, the founder of the society. This book gives all that and more. Nicholas is nine and has been moving from orphanage to orphanage for years. When his guardian drops him off at the new orphanage, she warns him to be good. The problem is not that Nicholas cannot obey, but that his conditions make him easy pickings for teasing. He has narcolepsy and falls asleep at random times. He also falls asl Having read the Mysterious Benedict Society, I always wanted to know the background of Nicholas Benedict, the founder of the society. This book gives all that and more. Nicholas is nine and has been moving from orphanage to orphanage for years. When his guardian drops him off at the new orphanage, she warns him to be good. The problem is not that Nicholas cannot obey, but that his conditions make him easy pickings for teasing. He has narcolepsy and falls asleep at random times. He also falls asleep any time he feels extreme emotions. Nicholas also has a photographic memory and can speed read. This is a great addition to the series and I love that this is where Stewart went after finishing the last book (so far) in the series. Getting some background on Nicholas provides an intriguing look at the boy who became the man.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lilian

    Storms, this book was good. It wasn't very realistic, but I loved the plot and the setting and how the characters interacted. (And Violet's cool.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven Grecia

    Words can't explain how much this book disappointed me. Trenton Lee Stewart. THE Trenton Lee Stewart. He wrote this book? Where's the Trenton I idolized who wrote The Mysterious Benedict Society Trilogy? Where is that brilliant author who opened my eyes to the world of reading? The book went from boring to boring-er. The setting was isolated in their own little place. Trenton forgot to use his imagination. Halfway through the book, the story went on and on and on and on about a stupid treasure. Words can't explain how much this book disappointed me. Trenton Lee Stewart. THE Trenton Lee Stewart. He wrote this book? Where's the Trenton I idolized who wrote The Mysterious Benedict Society Trilogy? Where is that brilliant author who opened my eyes to the world of reading? The book went from boring to boring-er. The setting was isolated in their own little place. Trenton forgot to use his imagination. Halfway through the book, the story went on and on and on and on about a stupid treasure. They put all their effort on a treasure they were not even sure existed. Like whaaaaaat? And then Trenton tried fitting all the exciting parts at the end of the book. And by 'exciting' I mean 'not THAT boring.' There were REALLY REALLY REALLY insignificant characters in the book. The book would've flowed without them, but apparently, Trenton's creative juices weren't working that time. I don't know how he connected this story to The Mysterious Benedict Society, but he did. The book ended abruptly, as if Trenton suddenly got exhausted of writing and decided to stop the book right then and there. WELL, IF HE JUST CUT OUT THOSE REDUNDANT MEETUPS WITH JOHN AND VIOLET, THERE WOULD'VE BEEN LESS WASTED PAGES. I STILL HAVE SO MANY RANTS ABOUT THIS BOOK BUT I CAN'T SEEM TO EXPRESS THEM IN WORDS. I AM REALLY SORRY FOR THIS VERY INFORMAL REVIEW BUT PLEASE EXCUSE ME, I'M TOO DISAPPOINTED IN HIM. I'm sorry to all the fans of this book, but sad to say, this is a mere shadow of what Trenton could do. I'm so disappointed right now, I won't even try finishing this sente-

  20. 5 out of 5

    Levi

    This book was really good! I takes place before the other books when Nicholas Benedict is a child. In the beginning of the book, he is just moving to a new orphanage. Once there, he has to face his many problems. His strange sleeping condition (he constantly will suddenly fall asleep), the spiders (a group of bullies), and the strange mystery surrounding the Rothschild manor. However, he is not alone. He is almost instant friends with John Cole, an older boy. Nicholas soon finds himself in the m This book was really good! I takes place before the other books when Nicholas Benedict is a child. In the beginning of the book, he is just moving to a new orphanage. Once there, he has to face his many problems. His strange sleeping condition (he constantly will suddenly fall asleep), the spiders (a group of bullies), and the strange mystery surrounding the Rothschild manor. However, he is not alone. He is almost instant friends with John Cole, an older boy. Nicholas soon finds himself in the middle of a huge mystery that will change his life forever. It is a great book that I think many people would enjoy!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    I LOVE THIS BOOOOOOKKKKK!!!! I mean I would have liked it if they had put more detail into his life and made it go through his ages besides being nine. I'd also like to know why he never married I bet he was a strapping young lad! I really liked how it ended though and the mystery did not get boring for a second. I loved how they Incorporated a deaf character (violet ) and how violets swooped to the rescue when we all thought jhon was gone forever. I loved the book but I feel like I need more inf I LOVE THIS BOOOOOOKKKKK!!!! I mean I would have liked it if they had put more detail into his life and made it go through his ages besides being nine. I'd also like to know why he never married I bet he was a strapping young lad! I really liked how it ended though and the mystery did not get boring for a second. I loved how they Incorporated a deaf character (violet ) and how violets swooped to the rescue when we all thought jhon was gone forever. I loved the book but I feel like I need more information please. This is Gill and I aproved this messege

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    I just love everything about this whole series and can not recommend it enough. I’ve been telling everyone about it. Rarely do you find a series where you love the prequel as much or even more than the series itself. It was definitely a different read — the “bad guys” are not world-class super villains, but orphanage bullies, but you delight in every moment they are outsmarted or thwarted just the same. Nicholas Benedict is just as wonderfully endearing as a child than as you know him in adultho I just love everything about this whole series and can not recommend it enough. I’ve been telling everyone about it. Rarely do you find a series where you love the prequel as much or even more than the series itself. It was definitely a different read — the “bad guys” are not world-class super villains, but orphanage bullies, but you delight in every moment they are outsmarted or thwarted just the same. Nicholas Benedict is just as wonderfully endearing as a child than as you know him in adulthood. His spirit cannot be dampened, even by terrible circumstances and those around him. He sees faults about himself that you, as a reader would never have held against him, and yet he seeks to correct any wrongs he’s made. It is a hilariously funny, beautifully written, captivating novel that is also a must read. I would put the whole Mysterious Benedict Society series (including this prequel) below Harry Potter and Narnia, but above most other of my favourite kid series. Top Ten for sure; possibly Top Five. Go read it immediately!

  23. 4 out of 5

    KevinC_E2

    This book is an enjoyable read, but you shouldn't expect to meet the characters from the previous books other than Nicolas Benedict since this is a book only focusing on him. The story starts off with young Nicolas going to the orphanage since the person that adopted him felt like he was too annoying. In the orphanage, he found out about a treasure that was inside the orphanage. In the end, Nicolas was able to find the treasure and lived in the orphanage since then... until...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy Kannel

    I *loved* this (and so did my 10yo). Young Nicholas Benedict was such a delightful character! I liked it even better than the second and third books in the original trilogy. I didn't want to put it down; it had some interesting plot twists I didn't see coming. Highly recommended middle-grade novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Phillip G.

    I try to read at least some fiction each year. My daughter recommended this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having grown up in a boarding school myself, there was much I could relate to, but I think anyone would enjoy this adventure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jude Johnson

    It was good, but it went very slowly through events.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Before Nicholas Benedict brought four unusual children together, he was just a lonely orphan himself, sent from one orphanage to another. While Nicholas’ mind might be extraordinary, his abnormally large nose and his narcolepsy make him a target for the other children. When nine-year-old Nicholas arrives at Rothschild Manor, he can only hope that things will become better for him. There, he makes a quick friend only to have him scared away by the orphanage bullies, the Spiders. With his photogra Before Nicholas Benedict brought four unusual children together, he was just a lonely orphan himself, sent from one orphanage to another. While Nicholas’ mind might be extraordinary, his abnormally large nose and his narcolepsy make him a target for the other children. When nine-year-old Nicholas arrives at Rothschild Manor, he can only hope that things will become better for him. There, he makes a quick friend only to have him scared away by the orphanage bullies, the Spiders. With his photographic memory and canny ability to notice everything, no one has ever met a child like Nicholas. When he discovers that the former residents of the orphanage, the Rothschild’s, have a hidden treasure room, Nicholas wants to solve the mystery. Finding a hidden treasure would solve all of Nicholas’ problems and free him from the orphanage. Ever a mystery, Nicholas has much to learn before he becomes the founder of the Mysterious Benedict Society. This is the prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy, following the society’s leader when he was a brilliant child. I loved the first two books in the series, but felt disappointed in the final book. Left feeling unsatisfied with the ending, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, since prequels can be a hit or miss. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is a clever book in which a mystery slowly unfolds as we get to see Nicholas start to become the person we know from the other books in the series. I was worried that Nicholas would be too similar to Reynie, but the two characters felt distinctly different. Nicholas is odd, but he’s always had to look after himself and is resourceful as well as brilliant. Nicholas has never known his parents, and is convinced that people are naturally bad, especially adults. As Nicholas learns more about the true nature of humans, he discovers what kind of person he wants to become. Although his uniqueness earns him his share of enemies, he also forms true friendships. In junior fiction, sometimes I find that conflicts are resolved with magical solutions. I liked how in this novel Nicholas learns how to live with some of his problems while resolving others on his own. He didn’t just make them disappear by turning back the clock or having someone cast a spell. At first, I didn’t know exactly what this book was about, aside from being about Nicholas Benedict. While dodging bullies, Nicholas tries to find a hidden treasure room in the orphanage. He researches the Rothchilds and pieces together the clues to find the truth about their treasure. Unlike in The Mysterious Benedict Society, there aren’t any codes and riddles, but I liked how all the pieces of the mystery came together in the end. I was really happy with the ending, although early on in the book it felt like things were moving slowly. While The Mysterious Benedict books are filled with codes and little mysteries, The Extraordinary Education is made up of one big mystery, and has no fantasy elements, unlike the trilogy. I think fans of the other books will enjoy this prequel, although you could easily read this book without knowing anything about the other books in the series. A great junior fiction book for anyone, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an exciting story about a smart thinking boy who will grow into a truly great man. 4.5/5

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aiden Heavilin

    I know of no other writer like Trenton Lee Stewart. Stewart has a remarkable sense of wit, and there's never a situation he's incapable of drawing a vein of humor from. And yet his stories can be sad, sad in an aching, nostalgic, resigned way. His writing is able to tap into your childhood fantasies and display them, intact, in words, words so precisely chosen that they startle you with their vividness and perfect imagery. Above all else, he's a storyteller, and his warm, optimistic personality I know of no other writer like Trenton Lee Stewart. Stewart has a remarkable sense of wit, and there's never a situation he's incapable of drawing a vein of humor from. And yet his stories can be sad, sad in an aching, nostalgic, resigned way. His writing is able to tap into your childhood fantasies and display them, intact, in words, words so precisely chosen that they startle you with their vividness and perfect imagery. Above all else, he's a storyteller, and his warm, optimistic personality seeps through in his writing. Stewart is not a perfect writer, the final Mysterious Benedict Society book is badly paced, and "The Secret Keepers" had a number of unfortunate flaws, but this, "The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict", this is is Stewart firing on all cylinders, and it is a marvelous thing to behold. I try sometimes to articulate what I've found in Stewart's writing that is so touching, so original, so unlike any other fiction out there. But I inevitably come up short: Stewart is himself. His stories are profoundly eccentric, and eccentrically profound. The characters are almost caricatures sometimes, and their names hint to that, Ledroptha Curtain, Mr. Column, Constance Contraire. But, beneath the facade of quirkiness, all of his characters are deeply human, and flawed, and complex, and infused with just a little touch of the bizarre. Stewart can write humor so uproarious you have to stop reading to wipe your eyes, action so exciting you feel as if you are seeing it play out before your very eyes, and emotions so raw and touching you dare not speak lest you break the bubble of perfection. Without spoiling the story, I will say there is a chapter near the end of this book so immaculately constructed, so beautifully cathartic, so perfectly written I read it over and over again, goosebumps running down my back each time. If there's one tangible quality that sets Stewart's writing apart, it might simply be how he writes relationships. His characters are rarely old enough for the tumultuous drama of romance, rather, they forge friendships, exceptionally honest, strong friendships. Whereas other authors constantly punish their characters with betrayal after betrayal, cruelty after cruelty, Stewart lets them see the kindness and beauty of the real world. He lets them dream. He lets them hope. He lets them smile. The book moves slowly, for sure, but that only makes it better. Each chapter is a boatload of riches, psychologically complex characters that, at first glance, seem to be nothing but caricatures, but reveal depths beneath, razor sharp wit, gentle humor, profound melancholy, I could go on forever. I guess all I can say is that this book is as close to perfection as possible. Thinking back on it, I can think of only one dull section, and even that is more interesting than nearly all children's literature combined. If you're looking for an author who doesn't talk down, who has a strong sense of atmosphere, and who is a master at evoking any emotion he pleases...look no further.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Winna

    What a delightful read. It makes me realize how much I miss the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and there hasn't been any new books from Mr. Stewart after this one came out in 2012. Now which mystery am I supposed to read? This one comes as a prequel to the series. Nicholas Benedict is 9, sent to an orphanage, and is friendless. There, he encounters possible friends, possible enemies, and clues to a treasure hunt that he thinks he can solve. It does not have the modern feel of the series, whic What a delightful read. It makes me realize how much I miss the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and there hasn't been any new books from Mr. Stewart after this one came out in 2012. Now which mystery am I supposed to read? This one comes as a prequel to the series. Nicholas Benedict is 9, sent to an orphanage, and is friendless. There, he encounters possible friends, possible enemies, and clues to a treasure hunt that he thinks he can solve. It does not have the modern feel of the series, which is understandable since it must have been decades before the series even begin, but that's exactly why I like it. I like the fact that it is set in an orphanage, also there's something so lonely yet warmhearted about the book. It is sufficiently dark and mellow, but made bright with Nicholas Benedict's presence. His scenes are always so wonderful - we get insights into what he's really thinking, and even though we know sometimes he can be a little judgmental as to how adults behave due to his life experiences, we can understand why he feels that way, and get rewarded because he always comes through his judgments and problems in the end. The mystery is cleverly done, though I can guess what the mystery is through the middle of the book. The friendship is also nicely done, though I wish I'd have John or Violet in the series so they connect the dots. The characters are lovely, the conclusion satisfactory. I love, love, young Nicholas Benedict and can hardly imagine a brilliant nine year old as mature as he is, but Trenton Lee Stewart makes it believable as well as magnificent. So bravo.

  30. 5 out of 5

    D.J.

    I'd like to preface this review by saying that my opinion of this book has changed drastically. My initial impression of it five years ago was colored heavily by Stewart's flagship series, which I had wanted to see more of, and so I was not willing to appreciate the different and altogether refreshing experience that Extraordinary Education was offering. Now that I've put to rest my rose-tinted adoration for TMBS, I've discovered that Stewart succeeded in this prequel where I once thought he'd f I'd like to preface this review by saying that my opinion of this book has changed drastically. My initial impression of it five years ago was colored heavily by Stewart's flagship series, which I had wanted to see more of, and so I was not willing to appreciate the different and altogether refreshing experience that Extraordinary Education was offering. Now that I've put to rest my rose-tinted adoration for TMBS, I've discovered that Stewart succeeded in this prequel where I once thought he'd failed. For posterity's sake, you can still read my original off-the-rails review here. I'm not proud of it, but I am proud of how I've changed the way I approach and review new books. And now, onto the new review. *** If I were to try and describe Trenton Lee Stewart's books to you, I'd say they are novels that shift between a sea of chaos and a sea of calm. There are eye-catching hues of madness and beauty within his children's stories, reminiscent of tales such as Alice in Wonderland, Peppermints in the Parlor, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. They are rife with characters who are brimming with life and lunacy, wit and willpower. And then, on the flip-side, we have Stewart's adult fare such as Flood Summer, which features a darker realism that is at once momentous, nostalgic, and phantasmagorical; you try to reach out and grasp the dreamy feeling, but you might as well be trying to hold a moonbeam in your hand. And so, between these two storytelling hemispheres lies Extraordinary Education (EE): a marvelous story chock-full of twists and turns, crushing moments, joyous moments, absurd and lovable characters, and of course, a good ol' fashioned mystery. I would even go so far as to say there are touches of mannerpunk and a Dickensian cruelty within the novel, which really ticks the boxes for me. I don't know how he does it, but Stewart has written some of the most engaging and impactful stories I've ever read. They are touching, well-written, inspirational, and bursting with liveliness. You get an authentic sense that Stewart still understands what it's like to be young, and his respect for you, the reader, allows him to write stories that not only appeal greatly to kids, but also tap into that inner child within adults; that youthful self of never-ending summers and grand adventures. From the outset, EE's story had me hooked. Stewart transitions seamlessly from scene to scene, conflict to conflict, revealing just enough information to tease the imagination and provide some excellent set-ups for the novel's twists. The Manor, a relic of a thing, is home to a numerous amount of weird goings-on, all of which serve to build an eerie tone in relation to both the characters and the mystery at hand. In comparison to the main TMBS story, EE's is a more subdued, subtle, and personal tale, but no less powerful. In fact, I find it to be even more powerful because of the deep look we're given into part of Nicholas Benedict's past. And if you're paying attention enough to details, you can see how certain things in the future of the series' timeline are getting set into motion. Certain matters that are staples of Stewart's novels—such as misery, loneliness, triumph, and acceptance—are once again brought to the fore and explored with meticulous care. Stewart holds nothing back here when it comes to meaningful, heart-tugging moments. So moved was I during certain scenes that I just had to lean back in my chair and stare, awestruck, at the ceiling, a flood of memories and compassion for the characters filling my head. From writer to reader, the passion was passed on. I shook my head in disbelief, pleased to know that a writer such as Stewart was able to have such an effect on me. Now, a good Stewart novel is never without it's excellent cast of characters, and EE has a veritable trove of characters both dim and sharp, reserved and wild, mirthless and witty. Though Stewart's novels are often dark, there are always characters who dare to battle this darkness, bringing about any positive change they can. It is a conflict older than time, and yet here in EE it feels practically new—it is a joy to read about. Nicholas Benedict himself is an endlessly prodigious but flawed character, always innovating and circumventing; always acting as a catalyst wherever he goes, and it is his presence that allows this novel to shine as it does. I've mentioned in my review of TMBS #1 that Stewart is often compared to Lemony Snicket, but again, Stewart's characters and his broader scope of vision allow him to surpass Snicket in terms of characters' growth and complexity. Anybody who sees Reynie Muldoon or Nicholas Benedict as a copy of Klaus Baudelaire is simply not looking hard enough. The supporting cast of EE complements Nicholas, as well. Without them, the book would become hollow, for every presence has weight within the story. Indeed, I cared for the others as much as I did Nicholas, their symbiosis and discord affecting my equilibrium in ways that are hard to evoke with words. I'm not sure why I was so put off by the pacing during my first read of EE (probably due to my extreme disappointment back then), but now, I don't find it to be a problem at all. With every new sentence comes a new development, and there is never any wasted space. Here and there, Stewart will linger, as he is prone to do, but these lingering parts are still enjoyable to read, contributing to character development and the overall "living" setting of the novel. The eccentric Manor that Stewart puts his characters into never cease to delight me; its distinct tone, timelessness, and frightening implications always manage to deepen my interest in the world and characters as events transpire. Too often, authors don't realize the importance of developing their world in the same way they would one of their characters, thus leading to settings that are simply the backdrop for whatever story they want to tell, failing to reflect the characters that are present within them. Stewart, on the other hand, takes better care of his settings, a Wonderland sort of care, and here in EE he draws upon old fantasy tales and Gothic stories for EE's success. Every chapter flows into the next—the zaniness and laughter to be had within each one facilitating this streamlined experience. Rarely do I find a book that I wish wouldn't end, but alas, Extraordinary Education had to come to a close. It pains me to say that I don't know if we'll ever get something quite like this from Stewart ever again. I wish I could write a story like this: a story so complete, so heartwarming and humorous, yet also gloomy and Gothic, and overall, just a splendid example of modern literature. This may not be what die-hard fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society are looking for, but truly, Extraordinary Education breaks the series' mold with aplomb, delivering a far more enriching and powerful narrative despite its isolated nature. And within the exceptional experience, you will yet find its treasure. You need only search for it.

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