Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Andrew Clements Series: The Keepers of the School

Actually the whole title is Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We the Children and actually, it's really good! The kids at my school love Andrew Clements, he's a pretty quick easy read for most of them, he writes a lot about kids at school, and he tells a darn good story. All things that kids love in a book. I know when school starts up again (not even thinking about it!) this is going to be a popular series.

Benjamin Pratt attends middle school at Oakes School on the coast of Massachusetts. The school was started just after the Revolutionary War by a sea captain Duncan Oakes and is now under attack from the city council who wants to tear the school down for a historical theme park.

In the opening book of the series, We the Children, Benjamin witnesses the death of the janitor and is given a mysterious medallion with the directions:

If attacked, look nor'-nor'east from amidships on the upper deck. First and always, my school belongs to the children. DEFEND IT.
Duncan Oakes, 1783

and with that, the mystery begins. Benjamin recruits his friend Jill to help him solve the mystery and the two of them find another mysterious artifact hidden behind a piece of base board after following the directions on the medallion.

The story line is well done with Benjamin's parents being separated and him splitting ti
me between his mother's house and his father's sailboat. A third student, who isn't very nice to Ben, Robert Gerritt, is introduced early and even though Ben tries to avoid him, the story line keeps bringing them back together. In the final chapter, the two are pitted against one another in a sailing race that is very exciting and keeps the reader going. Andrew Clements provides a bit of a surprise in the end that is a cliff hanger that left me wanting to read the next book, NOW!

I really like the beginning of this series a lot. The book is only 143 pages which make it very accessible to every reader starting in the third grade. It's not fantasy or mythology or filled with weird creatures that are hard to keep track of, it's just a good mystery/adventure that real kids can imagine themselves a part of.

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