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

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2012

By Andrew Clements, Reviewed by Madeline Hastie

We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School) book cover

We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers
of the School), by Andrew Clements; Atheneum
Books for Young Readers: New York, 2011;
$6.99

Atheneum Books, the publishing company, knew what they were doing when they published this mysterious and wonderful book by Andrew Clements.

I relate to Ben, the main character, a lot. Ben is friendly and outgoing. I am, too. Ben is also brave and nosy, and he likes to know what things mean and what others are doing. He always accepts a challenge and never gives up. He’s confident and always knows he can do it.

I also feel close to Jill, another main character. She always is wondering who to take sides with. She knows what she should do, but when she tries she feels like her ideas are criticized. She’s negative and overwhelmed sometimes, but then she feels really bad and apologizes. She becomes sweet, energetic, and bold.

When Ben and Jill find out the school they go to is going to be torn down, they feel like they must stop it. I would react the same way. I would feel upset and find a trustworthy teacher, though, to speak to a board meeting about my opinion. I wouldn’t start being a detective like Ben and Jill until after the teacher failed. Then I would look for clues to help me.

When Ben and Jill need to solve the clues, they spend a lot of time in the library to learn about the school’s past. I would research the clues on the Internet. Jill did a tiny bit online. I would type in each clue and hope to find how they related to my school.

As for when the grouchy and scary janitor, Mr. Keane, stops Ben to give him the coin, I would have done the same. I would take the coin and promise to save the school, but I would not go straight to a friend to find out about a dead person who had their name on the coin. I would Google them.

Once I received the coin, I would feel scared and hopeless. I probably would go and forget about it until I had free time. If I heard that Mr. Keane had died, part of me would feel nervous because now I would be alone, which would make me go recruit a friend. Part of me would feel sad but would tell me that now, if I broke my promise, Mr. Keane would not know. Most of me would feel too sad to even think about the coin.

My favorite parts of the book were very touching. One was how Jill seemed to always understand how Ben felt and would try to make him joyful. The other was when Ben saved Robert’s life. That made me think of Ben as heroic and kind.

It always made me angry when Robert bullied Ben. If I had been there, I would have told Robert what a bully he was and I would have stood up for Ben.

Overall, I would recommend this story to anyone who loves a mystery and conflicts that only tightly bonded friendship can solve. This book is heartwarming and touches your soul.

We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School) Madeline Hastie

Madeline Hastie, 10
Northfield, New Hampshire

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