March 13, 2011

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School #1 - by Andrew Clements

A lonely boy whose parents have split up, a girl who is more brave and less nerdy than the boy once thought, a corporation willing to do anything it takes to get their new amusement park built, and a long-dead sea captain who lives on in mysterious and important ways.  That's what you're really picking up when you pull this book off the shelf.  Benjamin never thought much about his historic school on the Atlantic coast until the strange old janitor slips him a gold coin, whispers some confusing things, and then dies.  Suddenly it's up to Benjamin and his new friend Jill to save the school.  How can two kids go up against such a powerful and devious company?  With a little help from that zany old captain and some of the school's long-gone students.  It's a mystery, an adventure, and a bit of a friendship story all stirred together.

I was really looking forward to reading this new series by Andrew Clements, of whom I am a tremendous fan.  Although I ended up liking it, I was also disappointed.  The artwork was amazing, and the story was interesting, but this is one of those series where each book leaves you hanging for the the next one, meaning you pay big bucks for the hardcover (this is a fancy book) and don't even get resolution to the story that's been built up.  This whole book feels like the first chapter in a story, introducing the characters and laying out the plot, which is actually pretty mysterious.  The writing may be some of Mr. Clements' best, but I've always loved his stand-alone stories, which really tie up nicely and leave you feeling good.  This is more like the 39 Clues than I would like, though less rewarding to the reader from book to book.  Please Mr. Clements, just write big books or small, don't leave us hanging like this with your unresolved books with unnecessarily long names!

Read this if you love sailing, historical sites, architecture, evil janitor spies, or series that leave you hanging!


Ms. Yingling said...

You are not alone in your opinion of this series.

Mister K said...

Thanks, Ms. Yingling. It's good to hear it's not just me!