(Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School)
Author: Andrew Clements
Publication: Atheneum (April 6, 2010)
Description: Benjamin Pratt’s school is about to become the site of a new amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true! But lately, Ben has been wonder if he’s going to like an amusement park in the middle of his town—with all the buses and traffic and eight dollar slices of pizza. It’s going to change everything. And, Ben is not so big on all the new changes in his life, like how his dad has moved out and started living in the marina on what used to be the "family” sailboat. Maybe it would be nice if the school just stayed as it is. He likes the school. Loves it, actually. It’s over 200 years old and sits right on the harbor. The playground has ocean breezes and the classrooms have million dollar views…MILLION DOLLAR views.
And after a chance—and final—run-in with the school janitor, Ben starts to discover that these MILLION DOLLAR views have a lot to do with the deal to sell the school property. But, as much as the town wants to believe it, the school does not belong to the local government. It belongs to the CHILDREN and these children have the right to defend it!
Don’t think Ben, his friend Jill (and the tag-along Robert) can ruin a multimillion dollar real estate deal? Then you don’t know the history and the power of the Keepers of the School. A suspenseful six book series, book one, We the Children, starts the battle on land and on sea. It’s a race to keep the school from turning into a ticket booth and these kids are about to discover just how threatening a little knowledge can be.
My Thoughts: This was an interesting start to a new series. This book provided primarily introduction to the forthcoming series. We meet Ben Pratt who is a good student and is dealing with his parents' recent separation. He spends one week with his dad on his boat and one week with his mom in their house in town. He is unhappy about the separation and about the up-coming changes in his life. We meet Jill who is a childhood friends and confidant. She lives in town with her parents and siblings. She is smart and cute. Ben is just beginning to notice her as a cute girl and possible girlfriend. We also meet Robert who is one of Ben's chief rivals both at school and at the sailing club where they are both learning to race sailboats.
We also meet the school itself. It was built by Captain Oakes who had made a lot of money in shipping during the Revolutionary war and wanted to provide a continuing contribution to the town and the country. He gave the school to the children. Now the school is being threatened by developers who want to build a historic themed amusement park where the school stands.
A school janitor gives Ben a gold coin and the task of protecting the school just before he dies. Ben and Jill (with some help from Robert) are determined to find a way to save their school and the town from these developers.
The book was a quiet story up until the last couple of chapters. Young readers will be excited by the sailing race and Ben's heroics and will want to keep reading to find out if the students do manage to save their school.
He had to admit Jill's questions had been fair. Yes, he'd known about the theme park idea for almost two years now, and yes, swapping an old school for an amusement park used to seem like a good idea. But he was allowed to change his mind, wasn't he? Especially after what Mr. Keane said. But maybe Jill was right. Maybe he was just scared about change--any kind of change.