Time is ticking as the countdown to total school demolition continues. But in addition to deciphering maritime clues that could save the building, Ben Pratt and his friend Jill have to stay one step ahead of Lyman, the snake posing as the school janitor—who will do anything to preserve the $30 million development deal that pays his salary.
The second book in this riveting six-book series is as action-packed as the first one, culminating in a faceoff between Ben and Lyman. “After five bells sound, time to sit down” makes for a good riddle, but Ben also knows when it’s time to stand up…for Oakes School and for himself.
Gr 3-6–Although this book is a satisfying read by itself, the story will make more sense to readers familiar with We the Children (S & S, 2010). Benjamin Pratt and his friend Jill are trying to find the clues that will keep their 200-year-old school from being torn down and replaced by a theme park. Ben goes to the funeral of Mr. Keane, the janitor who died in the first book, where he meets Tom Benton, who held the job before Mr. Keane. The janitor’s widow gives Ben a large set of keys, and he and Jill solve the clue, “after five bells sound, time to sit down” and find a codicil from Duncan Oakes, founder of the school, that might change everything. The current janitor is stalking Ben and Jill and taunts them with the fact that in three weeks the building will be demolished. Expressive pen-and-ink illustrations add detail and excitement to the adventure, including the clues and coins found. Solid writing, likable characters, danger, a seaside setting, and now treasure will make readers eager for the third installment.–Debbie Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI
- SLJ Sept 2010