Monday, May 18, 2009

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

If you love Junie B Jones and Clarice Bean and Judy Moody then you are going to really love the Clementine books. We have two in our library Clementine’s Letter and The Talented Clementine.

Clementine is a third grader who has a heart of gold, she is constantly in a muddle, loves drawing and finds most rules, especially at school, very puzzling. Clementine is a regular visitor to the Principal’s office. Mrs Rice is a wonderful school Principal, she listens to Clementine and offers very helpful suggestions and strategies to help Clementine cope with change.

In The Talented Clementine, she is in despair because the children are putting on a talent show and Clementine is convinced she has no special talents. She does try tap dancing by gluing bottle caps on her shoes but this of course does not work. On the night of the concert we all get a huge surprise - Clementine does have a talent!

Back to those tap shoes. Her dad is the building supervisor for the apartment building. “He just lets them keep the beer in the basement. And all those beers come in bottles. With bottle caps. I got a pair of pliers from the workbench. Let me tell you, it is N-O-T, not easy to get twenty four bottle caps off with a pair of pliers, but finally I did it…. All the while I kept smiling whenever I thought about how happy everyone would be next week at the meeting because their bottles had already been opened.”

In Clementine’s Letter the class teacher is in line to win a trip to Egypt. He will be gone for the rest of the year. Clementine is in despair. She loves her teacher, they have developed strategies that really help Clementine to stay on task and now she has to cope with a substitute. She is convinced Mr D’Matz will not leave “Nope, sorry Mrs Rice, I can’t go away for the rest of the year because I promised to be here.” Then Clementine realises he might win the competition. She has some power though when all the class are invited to write letters of support. Clementine really lays it on the line about why her teacher should not go to Egypt and leave her.

One theme through the two books is names. A clementine is a citrus fruit. Clementine thinks her baby brother should be named after a vegetable if she has to be named after a fruit. We never get to know his real name because Clementine calls him carrot, spinach and radish and many other hilarious names.

Look for Clementine in our library these books are winners! and go to Sara Pennypacker's web site it is marvelous - she is the author of Stuart's Cape and Stuart goes to school. We even have a collection of ties in our library as a celebration of this inventive little story.

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