We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School #1)

by Andrew Clements (Author) Adam Stower (Illustrator)

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 wondering 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.

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Publishers Weekly

This suspenseful novel, which launches Clements's ("No Talking") Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series, catapults Ben into a mystery surrounding his seaside school. Founded by a Revolutionary War-era sea captain, the school is slated to be demolished to make way for an amusement park. Just before he dies, the longtime custodian gives the sixth grader a gold coin imprinted with the founder's declaration that the school belongs to the children and cryptic instructions on how to defend it. Ben and his friend Jill set out to decode the message, a process that involves some intriguing questions and maneuverings. Clements has the makings of an action-lover's dream scenario: a school setting full of history and secrets, a tense kids-versus-adults dynamic, and a sailing race to boot. Some may be disappointed by how little is revealed, though, and the climactic race, while exciting, ends the story abruptly. Characteristically, Clements probes his hero's personal quandaries, as Ben deals with his parents' separation, his growing feelings for Jill, and the potential loss of his beloved school. Ages 7-10. "(Apr.)" Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6. Sixth-grader Ben is racing off to class when he finds the janitor, Mr. Keane, in severe pain. The man gives him a gold coin from 1783 that has been passed down through the years by loyal janitors and can be traced to the first man hired by the founder of Captain Duncan Oakes School. It reads, "First and always/My school belongs to the children./Defend it." A few hours later, he is dead. The town council has sold the school to a big company to build a theme park, and there's something very fishy about the deal. With the words on the coin as his first clue, Ben studies the history of his school, which is 50 feet from the water's edge in a Massachusetts coastal town, and he convinces his friend Jill to help him explore it. Meanwhile, Ben is adjusting to his parents' separation and living at home with his Mom and on the sailboat with his dad. Expressive, dynamic full-page and spot illustrations rendered in pen and ink heighten the action. An exciting ending sequence features Ben participating in a sailboat race and becoming a reluctant hero. There are many questions to be answered in the next book. Good writing by an experienced author, likable characters, and a mystery to be solved make this a solid choice. "Debbie S. Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI" Copyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Sixth-grader Ben Pratt is thrust into a mystery-adventure when his school's janitor shoves a gold coin in his hand, passing on the responsibility to save Oakes School from developers. Captain Oakes gave the school to the community back in 1783; its original building overlooks the Massachusetts town's harbor. But the land has been sold, and buildings will be razed to make way for a theme park. With his parents recently separated and new living arrangements—one week at home with mom, the next on dad's sailboat—Ben has had enough change. He and Jill Acton, a friend with brainpower and potential, embark on a campaign to stop the attack. Veteran Clements ably sets up his planned six-volume series with topical problems, convincing, likable characters and intriguing extra details. Ben is an enthusiastic sailor; this installment concludes with an exciting race and near-drowning. The author of Frindle (1996) knows his audience and sets his story in a world of cell phones, class assignments and afterschool rules that will seem familiar to his readers. They will welcome this new demonstration of kid power. Stower's art unseen. (Fiction. 8-12) — KIRKUS, March 15, 2010, STAR
Andrew Clements
Andrew Clements (1949-2019) was the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was nominated for a multitude of state awards, including a Christopher Award and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. Find out more at AndrewClements.com.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781416938866
Lexile Measure
860L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
April 20, 2010
Series
Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School
Great Stone Face Book Award
Nominee 2011 - 2012
Nene Award
Nominee 2012 - 2012
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2013 - 2013
Massachusetts Children's Book Award
Nominee 2013 - 2014

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