At the beginning of the book, Mr. Benedict placed an ad in the newspaper that read, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" It was seen by multiple children and entered by thousands, but only four made it - Kate Wetherall, Reynie Muldoon, Sticky Washington, and Constance Contraire.

In past times when Mr. Benedict had placed similar ads in the newspaper, two children had passed the test: Number Two and Rhonda Kazembe. However, they had passed at different times, and he needed to find a team of children to carry out the mission