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Back to School time, kiddies!

September 7, 2010

Know a kid who’s still catching up on the reading they were supposed to do over the summer?

Here are a couple of historic preservation-themed books available from my beloved Books of Wonder store in NYC.  (And speaking of historic preservation — place a order from them so in some future time we won’t be saying “remember when there were actual bookstores where you could browse books all day?”  We all know that in the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail” the darling little Shop Around the Corner is put out of business by the big bad Fox Bookstore (think Barnes & Noble).  In the real world of Kindles and Nooks and New York bookstores, did you read last week that Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center will be shutting its doors?)

Anyway, where was I?

Oh!  Books to pass along to the young preservationist in your midst.

BENJAMIN PRATT & THE KEEPER’S SCHOOL (We the Children), by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Adam Stower.  Books of Wonder’s terrific catalogue describes the book like so:

With his parents recently separated and new living arrangements — one week at home with mom, the next week on dad’s sailboat — sixth grader Benjamin Pratt has had enough change; the last thing he wants is to see his harbor-side school — the oldest building in his small Massachusetts town — bulldozed to make way for a thirty million dollar real estate deal.

As Ben and his friend Jill begin digging for answers about how this ever got approved, they learn things that the people with money and power don’t want them to know.  Could the history hidden deep within the old school building stop the developers?  And just how far will these people go to get their way?  Ben and Jill are about to discover just how dangerous a little knowledge can be!

Your young readers (ages 7-11) won’t be able to put down this fast-paced, thrilling mystery  as they follow Ben and Jill every step of the way to pursue the truth.  The exciting first book in a brilliant new series from the author of the modern classic, Frindle.

My two youngsters will relate to the challenge of change, since their parents’ divorce is why their mom went back to school to study historic preservation.  By now, they’ve been to enough classes and tagged along on so many of my projects that they could advise Ben Pratt about how to save the school!

Another fun book to toss on the nightstand of your  junior preservationist is THE WRIGHT 3 by Blue Balliett, in which three Chicago children must unlock a mystery to prevent demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.

From Books of Wonder:

Young sleuths Petra and Calder are back again for another mystery, and this time they are joined by Calder’s old friend Tommy.  [The previous book:  Chasing Vermeer]  Their new adventures begin with a class discussion about the Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural masterpiece, which is threatened with demolition.

Opposed to the destruction of the house, the school kids begin a class project to save the building. Meanwhile, Petra, Calder, and Tommy each have discovered clues that lead them to believe there’s more going on at the Robie House than meets the eye!  Calder wants them all to work together, but Petra and Tommy distrust each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to solve the mystery and find the secret – left by Wright himself – that can save the house?  Or will greed trump art?

In the midst of this tangled web where life and art intermingle with death and danger, Petra, Tommy, and Calder must match wits with some dastardly villains and the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Your young sleuths (ages 9-12) will be thrilled by this tale of adventure, where the fine line between logical events and odd chances of fate blend together into a chilling mystery that can only be solved with a little teamwork and a whole lot of trust.

And, since it seems all good preservation tomes need a single mom in the plot, there’s one in this book too!  High five!

Did I mention that signed copies of both books are available from Books of Wonder?  If it’s too late for Back-to-School, it’s never too early to get a jump on your Christmas shopping!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 8:37 am

    Adding these to my to-read list, Sabra! I am familiar with Blue Balliett’s books but not those of Andrew Clements. What a great bookstore, too. Thanks!

    • Sabra Smith permalink*
      September 7, 2010 2:15 pm

      Paul dove into Chasing Vermeer and liked the idea of the secret code to puzzle through and the hidden pictures. All three of us were more dubious about some of the vaguely magical crossovers — and they haven’t even read “The Wright 3” yet!

      I hadn’t heard about the Clements books until the Books of Wonder catalogue (right there, people, is the value of independent bookstores!) and it’s been added to our “to read” list. (The Eldest is currently at work on a historical Susan Cooper novel called Victory — another Books of Wonder discovery that we found browsing the shelves of the store (the value of an actual bricks and mortar location!). [It got great reviews, and the hardcover is only $5 on sale at Books of Wonder]

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