Monday, September 11, 2006


CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Hyperion)
Spectacularful ideas are always sproinging up in Clementine's head, and she follows up on every one of them...perhaps that is why her best friend has no hair left, or her own skull is decorated with marker, or the first pair of bologna eyeglasses had to be invented. This exuberant little girl might exasperate her parents and her principal, but she will delight readers with the spunk of Junie B. Jones and Ramona Quimby. Short, action-packed chapters will have kids making high-pitched noises, screeching "yes, do it, do it!" and "no, don't! Stop!" in every chapter. Though Clementine may not always use the best judgement, she is a true blue friend from the bottom of her heart, and one that readers will be happy to have (especially with the distance of the written page). Spunk with a capital "S" makes this perfect pick for second and third graders. (7 and up)

And. May I just say. Marla Frazee. Is. PERFECTION. Every spot illustration. Oh, have mercy! So hilarious! So nuanced! So expressive! I have gone through this book just to look at the pictures three times? Four times? I love these drawings, they are so timeless. Can they give a Caldecott for a chapter book? That would make up for the other times her picture books might have been honored. For example:

WALK ON: A GUIDE FOR BABIES OF ALL AGES (Harcourt), a how-to for how to walk and persevere, which is equally meaningful for anyone of any age who needs to pull themselves up and move forward after a bad time (encouragement a la Seuss's OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO)(and yes, I know she's still eligible for awards on this one);
MRS. BIDDLEBOX by Linda Smith (HarperCollins), in which a spirited biddy wrangles with a bad day and manages to put it in its place;
ROLLER COASTER (Harcourt), of particular illustrative power, deftly following the highs and lows of everyone riding on a rollicking route.
On a personal note, Marla, are you out there? You're a genius. Can we do a book together? I heart you. XOXO.

Also of interest:
If you like Clementine (which you will), you will also like these stories featuring girls with unforgettable personalities:
GOONEY BIRD GREENE by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin) A born storyteller shares her gifts with the class, with mesmerizing results. Great read-aloud featuring a modern-day Pippi. (8 and up)
HENRIETTA, THERE'S NO ONE BETTER by Martine Murray (Scholastic) Who can resist a little girl with underpants on her head? Not me. Notably irreverent, this is an invitation for readers to join a wildly creative girl on a tour of her stream-of-conscious world ("even ants and beetles and cockroaches get lonely," "I said please, which always ups your chances," "kings can't fart,""my dad's like my dog," "I'm Henrietta, that's half a hen and half a Rietta". Sketches throughout add to the imaginative romp, and oh, it's a laugh-a-minute, like having the cutest little girl in the middle of the room putting on a show just for you. (7 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Elise said...

HENRIETTA is a hoot! When I read it to my 6- and 10-year-olds yesterday, we had to take several breaks to catch our breath from laughing so hard. From the underwear-on-the-head cover to the last page, we loved it! My kids liked it so much that as soon as I finished reading it to them, my 10 year old picked it up and re-read it aloud to her sister. Thanks for another great recommendation!


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