Benjamin’s historic seaside school is about to be torn down to make way for a huge amusement park. Benjamin is kind of excited about it, until an unusual encounter with the school janitor right before he dies. The janitor entrusts Benjamin with a heavy gold coin with a long history, and directions to ‘save the school.’
Benjamin isn’t sure he’s up for the challenge, but the mysterious directions intrigue him. So he recruits his classmate, Jill, and together they embark on what becomes a grand mission to save their school.
Andrew Clements is one of my favorite authors for upper-elementary grades, as I wrote in this previous post. When my children found the first two books in the Benjamin Pratt series (We the Children and Fear Itself) at the library, we immediately checked them out. They were audiobooks, so we listened to them in the van – and enjoyed them immensely. The third book, The Whites of their Eyes, was recently released and every one of us read it (our library doesn’t have the audiobook yet).
The publisher recommends these books for ages 7 – 10, and I agree, although my junior high students enjoyed these books too. Clements does a good job of pacing these books for younger readers – plenty of action counterbalanced by times of sailing, homework and interaction with his parents, dog & friends. In the second book, Benjamin makes a split-second decision which makes him a hero; in the third book, he learns to be more comfortable being himself instead of someone else – good lessons for both children and adults.