Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We the Children by Andrew Clements

Book description:
"Benjamin Pratt's harbor-side school is going to be bulldozed to make room for an amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true...or is it more like a nightmare? Something about the plan seems fishy, and Lyman, the new assistant janitor, seems even fishier. When Ben and his friend Jill start digging for answers, they find things that the people with money and power don't want them to see. Could the history hidden deep within an old school building actually overthrow a thirty-million-dollar real-estate deal? And how far will the developers go to keep that from happening? Ben and Jill are about to discover just how dangerous a little knowledge can be."

I really enjoyed this introduction to Clements' new series that focuses on two kids' efforts to save their elementary school from an evil corporate takeover. Ben is a delightful character struggling to accept his parents' recent separation; his dislike of change finds a focus in the plans to tear down his school. His partner in crime is the brains of the operation, and her inclusion in the story helps make the book attractive to both boys and girls.

This first installment is a slim volume that serves to introduce the theme and main characters, and sets up the mystery by solving one set of clues and introducing the next. Clements writes with an authentic voice that will appeal to young readers but introduces mature themes that should spark discussions around the dinner table. All in all an excellent read.

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