I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
It is always fun to stumble upon a new children's series. Especially one with so much potential. WE THE CHILDREN, the first book in the new BENJAMIN PRATT AND THE KEEPERS OF THE SCHOOL series was really delightful. Benjamin Pratt attends the Oakes School which has been around since the late 1700's. It was founded by a sea captain and sits on a prime piece of New England property overlooking the sea. Benjamin is a good kid who is fond of sailing and is struggling with his parent's separation. His world is about to change as the school has been sold by the city to a company that hopes to change it into a theme park. When the old school janitor has an accident, Benjamin goes to his aid and is entrusted with a gold coin that carries a secret about the school. Benjamin enlists the help of a clever schoolmate (think "Hermione Grainger") to decode the ring and the two decide that they must solve the secrets of the Oakes school in order to save it.
Benjamin Pratt is a very likeable character. He is good, thoughtful kid who tries to do the right thing. The book mostly sets the stage for what will come later. The children only get to solve a few puzzles this time around and one of the main villians is introduced. There is also an exciting sailing race where Benjamin gets to exhibit his "good guy" qualities. The series is very promising and a great book for a young reader not quite ready for the complexities of a "Harry Potter" type book.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: No questionable content here. There is one minor gross-out scene where Benjamin assists a janitor in cleaning up some vomit. Otherwise, no language, inappropriate behavior or questionable content at all.
This book will be released in April 2010.
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. I think this is going to be a good series for young readers. Especially boys who will enjoy the puzzles and sailing races. The book also provides a potentially strong female character in the form of Benjamin's clever classmate.