The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, a clever and witty book by bestselling author, Trenton Lee Stewart, is a novel that I have read and loved many, many times. As a prequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society series, also by Trenton Lee Stewart, this book is rated highly.
Little orphaned Nicholas Benedict is nine years old and has never seen or known what love is. Both of his parents were scientists and died in a lab experiment when he was very young. He was sent off to live with his aunt, but she also suffered the same fate as his parents. Ever since that time, he has lived in orphanages. At the beginning of this story, Nicholas’ loneliness made me think of the song Imagine by John Lennon in a sense that we should imagine what it would be like to live in a place where everyone cared about each other and how nice that would be.
In a small city called Pebbleton, the story begins. Nicholas is transferred from Littleview to the Manor, or Roschilds’ End. He has a rare disease called narcolepsy which is where sudden or strong emotions cause him to fall asleep at inconvenient times. This condition causes him to avoid certain activities because of the risk of falling asleep at the most unfortunate moments. Because of this, the director requires Nicholas to sleep in his own locked room instead of the boys’ dormitory. To avoid this, Nicholas engages in creative ruses to distract Mr. Collum, the director. In one such event, he grabs a bowl of hot, soft wax from the candles that light the hallway. Hurriedly, he pushes Mr. Collum’s key into the bowl, leaving a perfect imprint behind after pulling the key back up. He then stays up all night molding the key to be metalized. Little to his knowledge, this clever boy unwittingly made a skeleton key of the whole estate, including the expansive library in which Nicholas spends all of his free time. Nicholas makes a friend with a trustworthy boy of the age of twelve named John. The two then seek out an adventure to find the Roschilds’ missing inheritance.
This ending was both happy and touching. Trenton Lee Stewart makes the reader feel happy and safe in this story. At the ending, if this novel was converted into a movie, the song What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong would be perfect. It fits the ending theme of the book of how, even though not everything may go your way, some things do. And some of those things are what we come to love in life.
-Maya S., 7th grade