The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey -- Trenton Lee Stewart

It's been six months since the conclusion of the first adventure of the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Six long months since Reynie Muldoon, Kate Wetherall, Sticky Washington and Constance Contraire have all been together.  Now, Mr. Benedict has asked them to reassemble:  not for a danger-filled investigation, but for a celebration.

Perilous journey Unfortunately, evil Mr. Curtain has other plans...  which involve kidnapping Mr. Benedict!

Reynie's intuition, Kate's red bucket of tricks, Sticky's huge brain and Constance's stubbornness* are all formidable -- but will their talents be enough to find Mr. Benedict, rescue him AND save the world?

I was a pretty big fan of the first book, though I felt the pacing was a little strange in that it felt like two completely different books duct-taped together -- at about the halfway point, the story went from a puzzle/mystery to a sci-fi thriller.  Don't get me wrong -- I liked both halves very much!  It was just a strange transition. 

As for this installment:  I absolutely loved The Perilous Journey.  There was no strange transition -- the story flowed.  Reading it made me realize how much I've grown to enjoy the world and the characters -- these kids are just plain good kids.  They squabble, argue and occasionally disobey** the adults they love, trust and respect, but there's absolutely no malice in them, they'd do anything for each other and they just try to do what's right.  They're kids that you'd want to be friends with and that you'd probably want your kids to be friends with -- if you didn't mind your kids regularly getting into life-threatening situations, that is... 

The pace is quick, the characters have continued to develop, I love the narration (these would make great read-alouds) and, as in the first book, I especially enjoyed the puzzles and brain-teasers.  It makes me so happy to read books that celebrate smarts.  The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are super, but I do hope that Little, Brown darkened up Sticky's skin color on the finished cover -- because he's whiter-than-white on the ARC that I'm looking at right now.

Very highly recommended to fans of Dahl, Rowling and Snicket.

*It's starting to look like she's got another talent -- but I won't spoil it for you!

**Though even that is something that they wrestle with.