The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

by Trenton Lee Stewart

Other authorsDiana Sudyka (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2013



Local notes

PB Ste





Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2013), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages


Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict, an orphan afflicted with an unfortunate nose and with narcolepsy, is sent to a new orphanage where he encounters vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances, and a mystery that could change his life forever.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

496 p.; 5.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member LBrary
I hadn't read any of the books in the Mysterious Benedict Society series when I picked up the review copy for this prequel. But you don't need to know the series to enjoy this book. and I doubt that reading the prequel first will spoil reading the main series, which I certainly want to do now.
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While many aspects of the characters and the story seem formulaic at first, they turn out to be full of surprises. Very enjoyable.
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LibraryThing member RandyMetcalfe
Some time before the Mysterious Benedict Society formed, there was just a small orphan boy with rather particular traits named Nicholas Benedict. In this prequel adventure, Nicholas’ narcolepsy is only periodically a hindrance. But it is something he would like kept under wraps as he joins a new
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orphanage known as ‘Child’s End. That doesn’t sound promising for Nicholas. Nor does the regime in which he will be locked in a windowless room at night so that his nightmares do not disturb the other children.

Fortunately Nicholas is blessed with an eidetic memory, a great drive to learn (mostly through rapidly reading and then recalling each and every book in the orphanage library), and a remarkably resourceful wit. Together his prodigious memory, abundant storehouse of information, and reasoning ability get him out of numerous scrapes and, not too surprisingly, into a few. But Nicholas is not all alone in his endeavours. He finds a friend in John, who bravely protects him from the Spider gang of bullies at the orphanage, and in Violet, who has a host of challenges of her own not least of which is deafness. The three embark on a quest for a treasure that might save them all from fates that look less than appealing.

It is a return to form for Trenton Lee Stewart. This book has all of the verve of the first in the series. By concentrating his attention on only three children, and only one extraordinary child, he is able to add dimensions to their characterisation. Plot holds the reins, naturally, but Nicholas’ education will be something he can’t learn (or memorize) from books. There are extraordinary people in the world, and here we get a glimpse, perhaps, of why Nicholas Benedict grows up to become one of them. If, like me, you feel compelled to persist with a series once you’ve started it, you will not be disappointed when you reach this volume of the Mysterious Benedict Society series. Enjoy!
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LibraryThing member slanger89
I was so excited when I saw that this book had come out. I absolutely love the three previous Mysterious Benedict Society books. They are great reads for kids and young adults (and adults too of course :) because they are packed with adventure, mystery, and drama. While at the same time the stories
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teach valuable lessons about freindship, bullying, and other weighty issues.

This book tells us about Nicholas Benedict's (the "teacher" of the children in the three previous novels) unusual childhood. I was skeptical. I thought I would be disappointed since the children I have grown to love in the other novels weren't in this story, but that was not the case. I loved the characters just as much in this novel! It was very cool to see how all of the characters in this novel grew and some of the reasons why they turned into the people they do in the previously published novels.


Nicholas Benedict is your not-so-typical, super-smart, narcolpetic young boy. This story begins with his journey to a new orphanage (as Mr. Benedict is an orphan himself) called Rothschild's End. He dreams of a fresh start where he will have freinds and fit in, unfortunately that is not what happens immediately. Nicholas is warned of the Spiders, the orphanage's notorious bullies, before he even enters the building and the Headmaster, Mr. Collum, is not a compassionate or caring man.

However, Nicholas' stay at Rothschild's End isn't all bad. He is able to learn many valuable life lessons, gain a couple amazing new friends (John and Violet), all while on the hunt for a hidden treasure. Will Nicholas and his two friends figure out where the treasure is located before the Mr. Collum? Can Nicholas ever "defeat" the Spiders? Is it possible for someone so different to fit in?
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LibraryThing member BookyVT
The fourth in the series, this prequel shows Nicholas' childhood, growing up as a different child with a rare form of narcolepsy in a series of orphanages. When he finally ends up at Rothshild's End he makes friend, finds a treasure, finds out more about himself and saves the financially strapped
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orphanage. How he does it makes the story fun for fans of the Nicholas Benedict Society series.
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LibraryThing member SebastianHagelstein
Nicholas Benedict is a gifted nine-year old orphan. When he gets transferred to Rothschild's End, an orphanage, Nicholas must use his skills to find the lost Rothschild treasure.

There are some twists at the end, which is a surprise, even though it makes sense. There are some funny and clever parts
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because Nicholas has to outwit orphange bullies. He almsot always come out on top.
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LibraryThing member hidthemyd
Help readers not feel alone in their problems, such as bullying, having troubles at home, or even self-esteem regarding their appearance or conditions.
LibraryThing member alex.j.edwards
It was a cool educational outsmarting bully book!
LibraryThing member District13
Another excellent edition to the Mysterious Benedict Society series. This time around, we learn the history of Nicholas Benedict. This series is geared towards children, but written in such a style that it should appeal to all ages.
LibraryThing member kathleen586
Loved this book! I think there should be another prequel. :)
LibraryThing member simchaboston
Excellent prequel to the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy, but I think this is good as a stand-alone too -- the characters are that engaging, especially the precocious Nicholas. I agree with one of the other reviewers that the villains aren't that interesting, but the focus is mainly on Nicholas
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and his quest to find answers to the mysteries around him and friends to help him solve them. I do wish it was longer instead of shorter, mostly because I spent several hours today waiting to be called (or, luckily, *not* called) to serve jury duty, and this was not quite long enough to fill the whole time.
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LibraryThing member LynetteS
I thoroughly enjoyed the newest addition to the Benedict Society series. I had to grab it and finish it before my youngest beat me to it!
LibraryThing member catlover99
I am currently reading this book, but I have to say I am impressed with the way this book gives background to the books that follow it. This book is a prequel to the Mysterious Benedict Society Series. If you haven't read those books, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Read them soon, as you don't know anything
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about this book if you don't read the others.
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LibraryThing member lkmuir
Nine-year-old Nicholas Benedict, an orphan afflicted with an unfortunate nose and with narcolepsy, is sent to a new orphanage where he encounters vicious bullies, selfish adults, strange circumstances, and a mystery that could change his life forever.
LibraryThing member mirikayla
Oh, how I love these books. It's been long enough now that reading this one made me want to read the others again. I'll have to do that soon.
LibraryThing member Breton07
In this vivid mystery story by Trenton Lee Stewart, Nicholas Benedict learns of a hidden treasure at his orphanage. The story is both witty and mysterious, and the reader will never guess the outcome! I found Nicholas to have bravery, compassion, and a knack for getting into trouble. The book is a
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must read, and a page-turner! The story leads beautifully into the next book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society.
-Breton W Kaiser Taylo
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LibraryThing member Auntie-Nanuuq
The book had an interesting premise: orphan, shipped from orphanage to orphanage, deals with bullies, few friends, too intelligent for his own good, challenge to headmaster, & the treasure....

It was 400+ pages, so it was long & tedious with too much minutiae, and of course an author attempting to
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be overly clever.

I figured out what the treasure was early on, but became easily bored through-out.

But now I can say I attempted to read this series!
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LibraryThing member Griffin_Reads
As the prequel to the MBS series, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict offers a glimpse into the childhood and upbringing of Nicholas Benedict, both who he was, and why he came to be the person he is throughout the MBS series. The overall themes of the book showed how collective efforts
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can improve many people's lives and surviving does not need to be an individualistic experience, while showcasing the beauty of knowledge and learning (which is also shown in the rest of the series as well). I do not think I had fully appreciated these themes as a child, but the story is just as impactful as an adult as it was when I was a kid.
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(117 ratings; 4.3)
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