I was in the mood for something a bit lighter, something with a pinch of humour and a dash of cleverness. So I reached for my new copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
When I was younger, I adored books about clever children who went on amazing adventures and refused to live a dull life. Roald Dahl books were my favourite, later followed by Philip Pullman's wonderful trilogy His Dark Materials. And of course, there's always Harry Potter. Oh, and I also liked the Worst Witch series.
This book follows the tradition of adventure stories that offer a delicious escape from mundane life while featuring spunky, highly intelligent children who band together because they don't fit in anywhere else. So far, it's a real treat.
At the beginning of the novel, there is a series of "mysterious, mind-bending tests" aimed at special children. Those who succeed will receive the challenge of going on "a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete".
The characters are colourful and likeable. Each child is unique, with quirks that are amusing and interesting rather than annoying.
I love stories which emphasize children's intelligence and idealism. While adults can be cynical, limited by their own lack of imagination and hope, and a little dull, children are still electrically alive. Their minds are open and they are able to see the world in a completely different light. A child's world is still magical and full of amazing possibilities.