Title: We the Children (Keepers of the School, Book 1)
Author: Andrew Clements
Genre: Early grade children’s fiction
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
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.
I finished reading this book aloud to my four kids this morning. It didn’t take very long – it’s quite a short book. This is the story of Benjamin Pratt, a student at Oakes Elementary, a school that sits right on the harbor. Ben happens to be the last person to speak to the dying janitor, who entrusts Ben with the task of protecting the school. Ben is left to figure out why the school needs protecting – and from whom – with the help of his friend, Jill. At the same time, he is dealing with the new reality of his parents’ divorce and the pressure of competing in the annual solo sailboat races.
While we all liked this book, we were left wanting more. Obviously, this book is intended to be a series, and so the mystery is going to be spread out over several books. Because the intended readers are younger grade school children, this book was kept short, but I think that was its biggest weakness. Two of my kids literally said, in unison, “That’s it?” when I closed the book and said, “the end.” We enjoyed the characters and the set up of the mystery, but it felt more like part one of a longer book than a book meant to stand alone.
I do believe that the writing and characters will appeal to younger readers, but I hope for their sake that it doesn’t take too long for book two to come out.
(Disclosure: We the Children was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of this review. The above link is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and subsequently purchase anything, I will receive a small percentage in commission.)