ClementineTitle: Clementine
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Narrator: Jessica Almasy
ISBN: 9781436122078
Discs: Playaway / 1.5 hours
Pages: 136 pages
Publisher/Date: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, c2008.

I have had not so good of a week.
Well, Monday waas a pretty good day, if you don’t count Hamburger Surprise at lunch and Margaret’s mother coming to get her. Or the stuff that happened in the principal’s office when I got sent there to explain that Margaret’s hair was not my fault and besides she looks okay without it, but I couldn’t because Principal Rice was gone, trying to calm down Margaret’s mother.
Someone should tell you not to answer the phone in the principal’s office, if that’s a rule.
Okay, fine, Monday was not so good of a day. (1)

Ok, fine. So maybe Clementine, the third grader main character in Sarah Pennypacker’s book, doesn’t necessarily “Pay attention” like her teachers intend her to pay attention. But if she paid attention to what the teacher was saying, then she wouldn’t notice all the other things that are going on around her at school. Especially this week, which started off with finding her friend Margaret hiding under the bathroom sink and ended up with getting rid of pigeon poop on the steps of her apartment complex. And inbetween, she might have colored something she shouldn’t have and called her brother vegetable names. But there’s always a reason behind what happens, and even if Clementine doesn’t explain it to her parents or teachers or principal or neigbors, she does make sense to her readers.

Ok, fine, and there is also a sequel, The Talented Clementine. And a third one, Clementine’s Letter.

I have fallen in love with Clementine. She is highly adorable, although I’m sure if I had to deal with her in real life, I would find her highly annoying. She’s been compared to Ramona and Judy Moody, but I can also see readers of the Fudge series falling in love with her too. Marla Frazee’s pictures remind me of the cover illustrations for the Eloise books, although that’s one classic I haven’t read yet, so I can’t compare. Jessica Almasy provides a wonderful narration of this book, with all the frustration, confusion, and attitude that Clementine deserves. She doesn’t really bother with different voices, leaving her free to tell the story completely as Clementine. Not only is Clementine portrayed with perfection, but the parents, teacher, and principal are not just stock characters of exasperation and overwork. The school employees really are trying their best, and Clementine’s parents truly care about her, portraying the complexities of having to deal with a child that percocious.

I feel the only way to do this book justice is to quote from it:

Ok, fine, my brother’s name is not really Spinach. But I got stuck with a name that is also a fruit, and it’s not fair that he didn’t. The only thing worse than a fruit name is a vegetable name, so that’s what I think he should have. I have collected a lot of names for him. (17)

Margaret’s slippery head skin is not the problem,” she said. “The problem is that you tried to glue your own hair onto Margaret’s head. You’ve been having lots of problems this week. First you cut off Margaret’s hair. Then you colored her head. Yesterday you cut off your own hair and colored your own head. And today this. Clementine, what’s going on between you and Margaret?”
“How do you spell nitrogen?” I asked Mrs. Rice. Sometimes grown-ups get distracted if you ask them school things. (66-67)

And I need to stop now before I quote the whole book. It’s wonderfully entertaining, and probably a great read aloud to elementary school students.

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