Monday, October 17, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Benjamin Pratt and The Keepers of The School by Andrew Clements

About The Book: 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. --Goodreads

First Line: As the ship's bell clanged through the school's hallway for the third time, Ben ran his tongue back and forth across the porcelain caps that covered his front teeth, a nervous habit.

One Great Line: "If his answer sounded too happy she worried that he was hiding his true feelings, or worse, that he didn't miss her at all." (60)

What Others Are Saying: "Several other youth novels feature kids facing off against greedy, nefarious developers. What sets this title apart is the skillful way that Clements conveys Benjamin's growing appreciation of his seaside hometown's landscape and history. Readers will look forward to finding out how the disparate clues come together in coming installments."   -- Todd Morning, BOOKLIST

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

What I Thought: There are several reasons I picked up this book. The number one reason is because I knew it was the first in a series and I'm in the middle of analyzing book series--what works, what doesn't. There were several reviews that stated they thought that the book lacked in conflict or tension. I strongly disagree. I'm a fairly slow reader because I love the sound of words and I read this in one weekend. The true sign of a master wordsmith is how each sentence is packed with information, meaning and emotion. Clements carefully introduces us to the characters, lays down momentum, sets up the mystery so by the end of the book you want the next one, NOW. Thank goodness book two arrived at the end of August. 

Just finished this, awesome!

Release Date: 1/3/2012

About The Author:  Andrew Clements
Publisher: Simon And Schuster
Interview with Children's Literature
Literary Agency: Writers House
When: "After the songwriting came my first job in publishing. I worked for a small publisher who specialized in how-to books, the kind of books that have photos with informative captions below each one. The book in which my name first appeared in print is calledA Country Christmas Treasury. I’d built a number of the projects featured in the book, and I was listed as one of the “craftspeople”on the acknowlegements page, in tiny, tiny type.

"After about a year in the photo-caption-how-to world, a friend I’d met during college called and invited me help him launch a new company that imported high quality children’s books from Europe. It was while working for this company, first called Alphabet Press, and then Picture Book Studio, that I began writing picture book texts. As sales manager, I got to work with a terrific crew of salespeople who quickly taught me about the publishing business. As editorial director, I got to work with wonderfully talented authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators. I met people there who became life-long friends.In 1990 I began trying to write a story about a boy who makes up a new word. That book eventually became my first novel, Frindle, published in 1996, and you can read the whole story of how it developed on another web site, Frindlebecame popular, more popular than any of my books before or since—at least so far. And it had the eventual effect of turning me into a full-time writer." -Clements (See more here.)

Photo: Worcester Telegram & Gazette
"I’ve learned that I need time and a quiet place to think and write.  These days, I spend a lot of my time sitting in a small shed about seventy feet from my back door at our home in Massachusetts.  There’s a woodstove in there for the cold winters, and an air conditioner for the hot summers.  There’s a desk and chair, and I carry a laptop computer back and forth.  But there’s no TV, no phone, no doorbell, no email.  And the woodstove and the pine board walls make the place smell just like that cabin in Maine where I spent my earliest summers. 
Sometimes kids ask how I've been able to write so many books. The answer is simple: one word at a time." -Clements (See more here.)
What a cute little writing cabin. Mine would have to have electric heat, though. Building a fire would take me half the day! Ha! Don't forget to check out all the other MMGM bloggers in my sidebar.


  1. This sounds like a fun read. I'm sure kids would love the amusement park setting. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. "One word at a time." Oh, how true! I love Andrew Clements. He's a master craftsman.

    Nice review, Pam.

  3. I have this one but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Great, great review!! :-)


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