And, to round out my 5-a-day reviews, here's 2 more:
The Mysterious Benedict Society Trenton Lee Stewart
When Reynie's tutor sees an ad in the newspaper asking "are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" she signs him right up. What "it" turns out to be is a series of very odd tests. Slowly, the other children are weeded out until it's just Reynie, a boy named Sticky, and two girls--Kate and Constance. They all have different talents and abilities, and until they find each other, they are all very much alone. Together, they are the Mysterious Benedict Society.
Their mission is to infiltrate the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. TI is from this elite school that subliminal messages are being out over TV signals, tricking the populace into thinking there is a great crisis and change needs to occur. It's up to the kids to figure out what the point of the messages is and how to stop it.
Stewart's wacky characters, nefarious villains, and twisting plot all make for a sure fire hit. The art work is also superb. This is one that older readers are going to stay up all night reading with their flashlight under the covers.
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey Trenton Lee Stewart
It's been a year, and the kids are reunited for an exciting adventure planned by Mr. Benedict...
But, when he's been kidnapped, following the clues around the world is less a fun adventure, and more a race to save his life. Mr. Curtain is once again behind the evil plot, and his henchman are even more horrible than before.
If you liked the first, you'll like this, easy-peasey. The characters have evolved, but Reynie is so compassionate and good at reading his friends, several confrontations that could erupt don't. On one hand, I wanted them to, on the other hand, it would have distracted from all the action.
This also has the perfect necessary quality for a sequel-- even though it's been a few months, after a few pages, I was fully immersed in this world and it was like greeting an old friend. (A good book then, to read on a weekend that was full of greeting old friends!)
These are great big thick books that readers will love. Constance Contraire, the rude, rhyming, 3-year-old remains my favorite.