Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Do you feel like you understand more about what's going on at The Institute after reading this section? At least we understand what messengers do, and we get a brief introduction to the Whispering Gallery.
In this section, Reynie learns that Mr. Curtain hopes to bring about "The Improvement." He doesn't specify what that will look like, but he promises to bring happiness to all. He also mentions that he's going to eventually phase out the Messengers and have Executives. What do you think is going on? Later on in the section, the kids are able to get a look at Mr. Curtain's journal, and they figure out that Curtain is wanting to gain control--is he wanting control of the whole world? The kids also learn more about his system of "brainsweeping." I think the idea of brainsweeping is really terrifying. And, it was really sad to me that the long-term side effect of the sweeping was sadness. Could you believe the fact that he thought removing all mirrors would really make sure that no one had their memory triggered? I was first confused about Reynie and Mr. Bloomberg, the man who helped the kids realize that people were getting all of their memories stolen. I thought that Mr. Bloomberg was a character we had met at the beginning of the book, so I kept flipping back and forth to find where he had originally made an appearance. I was glad when Reynie provided the explanation as to how he had known Mr. Bloomberg. What did you think of that part? Did learning about the "brainsweeping" help you understand Milligan better?
Were you surprised that the kids were able to be so sneaky and were able to read from Mr. Curtain's journal? I couldn't believe that they were able to figure out a way to do that. They were sure lucky that Sticky had such a great photographic memory. Can you imagine what it would be like to have that sort of memory? The kids did several sneaky, potentially dangerous things throughout this section. I couldn't believe when Reynie climbed to look through the gym window, and I couldn't believe that the kids had the whole cheating scheme to help Kate and Constance get better grades. I was sure they were all going to get in horrible trouble so many times. They were really lucky. Were you nervous for them at all throughout this section?
At one point, Sticky gets caught cheating and gets sent to the "Waiting Room." What do you think happened to him there? Why was he so dirty when he came back? That section made me really stressed and sad for Sticky. He was such a nice boy, and I just hated to think that he had been uncomfortable.
Were you glad when Sticky and Reynie were promoted to Messengers? I was glad to learn more about what was happening at The Institute, but I didn't like that Reynie and Sticky had to be hooked up to the machine. Were you surprised that Reynie did so much transmitting? Did you understand all that was happening when the kids were transmitting? I kind of thought that Reynie would be able to resist anthing that Mr. Curtain wanted him to do. It was a surprise to me that he transmitted at all.
Do you have any guesses about what will happen at the end of the book? How are the kids going to get out of the school without being in horrible danger? How are they going to outsmart someone as brilliant as Mr. Curtain?
Interested to learn more about the author, Trenton Lee Stewart? Check out the video below, then read this article. Doesn't it seem like he is the perfect person to write stories for children?
I hope you're excited to read the next section! Hopefully, the book ends the way you want it to! I'm looking forward to reading your comments about this section!