Book Review: The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth
A unique read for pre-teens by author Mackenzie Crook that even parents will enjoy.
Image via benjamintooth.co.uk
Reviewed by Robyn van der Merwe
The first thing that struck me about this book is the cover. I have a love for book covers that look like old journals of any sort. What caught my attention next was the name of the author.
Mackenzie Crook is more than just an author (in fact, I had no idea he even wrote books!), he is also an actor. You may know him from his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Neverland.
About Benjamin Tooth
Benjamin Tooth is a scientist, a botanist and a (self-proclaimed) genius. He's also only 11 years old.
Right from the start, Benjamin is a strange and funny young man. The book you find yourself reading is filled with Benjamin's thoughts, findings and descriptions of the strange meals he eats for dinner. He describes his life with his mother and great-grandfather. We eventually see Benjamin alone and making his way through the world on his own while chasing his crazy dreams and plans.
Set in England during the 1700's, we see the entries in Benjamin's journal progress throughout the years and by the end we find ourselves reading the thoughts of a somewhat mad older man set on fame and fortune.
The Windvale Sprites
The first book by Mackenzie Crook is the reason we have The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth. The Windvale Sprites
is the story of mythical creatures but Benjamin is the one who discovers them and records his findings.
This is another reason, besides the clever writing and engaging story, that The Lost Journals is a fun read for adults as well as kids. The detail and thoughts that young Benjamin shares are so engrossing that you won't want to put this book down.
Publishers Faber & Faber have placed the book in their 9-11 years category, but I would recommend, obviously depending on the child, that the book be read by pre-teens slightly older. The book gets a little dark towards the end and may upset young readers.
A fun twist
Described in the book is a silver statue which depicts the sprites later found by Benjamin. Mackenzie Crook has decided to bring that statue to life by hiding clues throughout the book which will lead to an actual prize for one lucky reader. You can find out more on benjamintooth.co.uk
Watch the video below to hear the author's thoughts on the book and why he decided to run the competition.
Click on the cover to read an extract from the book.