Talented ClementineTitle: The Talented Clementine
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
ISBN: 9780786838707
Pages:137 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children, c2007.

“What’s the matter Clementine?” he asked me right away–I guess my worried face was still on.
I handed him the stupid flyer my teacher had sent home with us.
“Talent-Palooza, Night of the Stars! Share your talents Saturday night!” he read. Then he handed the stupid flyer back to me. “So, what’s the problem?”
I leaned over–but not too close in case he thought I was trying to be his girlfriend, which I am not–and whispered the problem to him.
“I can’t hear you,” he said.
So I whispered it again.
“I still can’t hear you,” he said.
So I yelled it.
“That’s impossible,” he said. “Everybody has a talent.”
“Not me.” (8-10)

Clementine is back in Sara Pennypacker’s second novel in the series, The Talented Clementine. But third grader Clementine is anything but talented: she can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t play a musical instrument, ok fine she can’t even hop or sit down right. Her fourth grade friend Margaret suggests Clementine borrows one of her many talents, but they all fail miserably, especially tap dancing with bottle caps glued to her sneakers. The day of the Clementine is still searching for a talent, but the one she finds is nothing anyone expected.

Sara Pennypacker has done it again. I can’t stop raving about this series. She’s given Clementine a voice, a style, and a spirit that readers are sure to fall in love with. Clementine tries hard to navigate the rules of the world without fully understanding them, which is completely authentic and relatable. For instance, on the day before the talent show, Clementine comes up with a solution to her problem and rushes to inform her principal:

“I just came by to tell you that tomorrow night I’ll be sending in a substitute.”
“A substitute?”
“Right. A substitute. Like my teacher sent a substitute today.”
“I’m sorry, but there are no substitute students.”
“But why not? If a teacher can have a substitute teacher, how come a kid can’t have a substitute kid?” (83-84)

I would love to read this outloud to kids, but I’m not working as a school media specialist or teacher…. Maybe I can form a program around Clementine somehow… I would have read her when I was younger, and I’m so glad I’ve discovered her now. A must read for girls.

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