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In a city called Stonetown, near a port called Stonetown Harbour, a boy named Reynie Muldoon was preparing to take an important test. It was the second test of the day – the first had been in an office on the other side of town. After that one he was told to come here, to the Monk Building on 3rd Street, and to bring nothing but a single pencil and a single rubber, and to arrive no later than one o’clock. If he happened to be late, or bring two pencils, or forget his rubber, or in any other way deviate from the instructions, he would not be allowed to take the test, and that would be that. Reynie, who very much wanted to take it, was careful to follow the instructions. Curiously enough, these were the only ones given.

About the book


When a peculiar advertisement appears in the newspaper for children to take part in a secret mission, children everywhere sit a series of mysterious tests. In the end, just four children succeed: Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance. They have three things in common: they are all honest, all remarkably talented and all orphans.

They must go under cover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. There they must work as a team to save not only themselves, but also the world outside the walls.

The New York Times bestseller comes to the UK.

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Press reviews

“... I enjoyed it very much -- great cast of characters, lots of cool puzzles and mysteries. The book made me feel nostalgic, because it reminded me of some of the better children’s books I grew up with, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Phantom Tollbooth. Stewart’s storytelling has an old-fashioned elegance to it ... the second book in the series is out now and I will definitely be picking it up.”


Author notes

‘It was the puzzles that led me to write the book in the first place. I’d long had an image in mind of a child taking a difficult test that was more than it appeared to be. To me that seemed the beginning of an intriguing story. When a similar idea occurred to me later, I thought of it as a possible addition to the first one. From there the story began to take shape. So although the book might work without the puzzles, it would not exist without them.’

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