Book Review: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

nicholas_benedictIf you’ve ever read Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, you will love this one. The prequel, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, is just as exciting and puzzling as the main series.

This book details the childhood of Nicholas Benedict, who later becomes the “wise and experienced mentor” in the later series. In this book, he’s just nine year old genius orphan. How typical. He arrives at Rothschild’s End Orphanage, a gray and dreary place. Uncompassionate staff and a trio of bullies force him to use wits to survive. Thanks to his narcolepsy, a condition causing random blackouts, he must be locked in his room at night. With a newfound friend, Nicholas overcomes these obstacles and many more with his superior intellect. My personal favorite is how he escaped the confines of his room. After borrowing a spare key, he makes a mold using candle wax, and later shapes a key during metalwork class.

For most of the story, he and his rival, the orphanage director, chase after the Manor’s long lost treasure, which is a lot more exciting than I make it seem. Readers will either love the story for its adventure, or for how Nicholas uses intellect and inventiveness to solve problems. It’s great fun to try and figure out a puzzle before the characters do. Even if we may never be that clever, this book sure makes us feel smart.

As with the rest of the series, this book is written with an eloquent and somewhat old-fashioned style. Nicholas’s sophisticated vocabulary adds to the fact. For me, it didn’t seem as dangerous and intense as the later series. The main antagonist is a trio of schoolyard bullies, while The Mysterious Benedict Society features enemies that would happily kill someone. Still, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an awesome read, and you should read it sometime soon.

-Phillip X., 9th grade

Book Review: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

percy-jackson-greek-godsWelcome to the ancient myths you know (or vaguely remember) from Percy Jackson’s perspective. It is completely biased with Percy directly stating which gods he loves, which gods he hates, and which god should build him a golden llama (come on Hephaestus!) So why should you read this book? Are some of Greek names so hard to spell, much less pronounce, that you want to make fun of? Do you wonder what Percy would do in an ancient greek myth situation? Have you ever thought about how the Greek myths affect everyday language? Do you enjoy your public service announcements such as drugs are bad and alcohol is for adults? Well, all of those are included here (even the last one; Percy needs to cover his legal bases when talking about the god of wine).

A lot (but not all) of the Greek myths are covered, everything from Zeus’s many affairs, to Hades kidnapping his niece, to Hermes first theft, and so much more. I really don’t want to ruin too much more because it’s fun to just discover what crazy things the gods are up to next. Well, in the past, but you know what I mean.

The only thing left to wonder about is when Percy had the time to write this book. He mentions Annabeth is his girlfriend, so it has to be after the first series. Then he mentions Piper is a vegetarian, so probably after the second series, too. Maybe around the same time he encountered Carter Kane, Egyptian magician. Speaking of which, this is a great book to get you ready for the third book in the Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover that just came out– The Crown of Ptolemy. It has Percy (his perspective) , Annabeth, Sadie, and Carter against a magician trying to harness Greek and Egyptian magic to become a god. Can’t wait!

– Nicole G., 11th grade