Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, pictures by Marla Frazee.
I am a fan of books about real little girls who are not obsessed with being princesses, but are more down and dirty people who refuse to conform. And in Clementine, I found exactly that.
Clementine is an eight-year-old who struggles to pay attention at school and continually finds herself in the principal’s office for some infraction. At the start of the book, Clementine finds her best friend and neighbor Margaret crying in the bathroom because she got glue in her hair and cut it out. Clementine offers to balance the haircut but it doesn’t look right, so Margaret decides she should just cut all of it off. And Clementine does. “Which is not exactly easy with those plastic art scissors, let me tell you.” And that is just the beginning of Clementine’s week.
The writing is very funny and would be perfect to read aloud to a class of first or second graders. I think they would all find a piece of themselves in Clementine. The illustrations contribute so much to the book as well. Often things that are just mentioned in passing are captured in the pictures, make the book that much deeper. And we all know how important scattered pictures in a chapter book are. These illustrations will invite young readers in and the writing will keep them there.
Clementine is a small sweet treat of a book. And just like her namesake she lingers enjoyably on your palate as well. I only hope that we see more of her in the future.