Author: Sara Pennypacker
Year published: 2008
Publisher: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children
Number of pages: 136
Is this book part of a series? Clementine series #1
Recommended age: 7-10
Child Rating: ★★★★★
Child Rating: ★★★★★
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary (from Back Cover): Clementine is having not so good of a week.
- On Monday she’s sent to the principal’s office for cutting off Margaret’s hair.
- Tuesday, Margaret’s mother is mad at her.
- Wednesday, she’s sent to the principal…again.
- Thursday, Margaret stops speaking to her.
- Friday starts with yucky eggs and gets worse.
- And by Saturday, even her mother is mad at her.
Okay, fine, Clementine is having a DISASTROUS week!
What it’s about: The story starts with Clementine cutting her friend Margaret’s hair because she got glue in it. When she was done cutting, Margaret’s hair was really short. They both get in trouble with the principal and Margaret’s Mom. Clementine tries to fix the problem by coloring Margaret’s hair red with her Mom’s permanent markers. Clementine feels bad so she cuts her hair off and lets Margaret color it green. Clementine helps end the pigeon wars on her building with a great idea and her parents throw her a party and give her a nice surprise present. You have to read it to find out what it is!
What I liked and disliked about it: This book was very funny. Clementine is funny because of some of the things she says. She names her brother after vegetables like Spinach, Broccoli, and Turnip because she got stuck with a fruit name. I like it when she says she won’t do something, then says “N-O-T not!” She also says “I ‘accidently’ touched her mask…”, but it wasn’t an accident at all. Her principal, teachers, and other grown-ups tell her to pay attention and she says, “I am paying attention”, but really, she’s not.
I also like her crazy drawings, but I’m the same age as she is and I think I draw better. Look:
It’s also funny that she’s afraid of pointy things and has nightmares about pointy things. It’s kind of strange. She wouldn’t like our kitchen chairs – cause they’re pointy! I think Clementine is silly and I really like her. I’m the same age as her, but I’m not really like her. I still like reading about her crazy adventures and thoughts though.
I can’t think of anything I don’t like about the book.
My bottom line: I really liked this book and I’ve read the next two in the series. I’m reading the fourth one right now. I would recommend this book to my girl friends.
What it’s about: This book adopts a first person narrative from the perspective of Clementine herself. The reader is entertained by Clementine and her mis-adventures spanning a week in her life. The main story centres around her friendship with Margaret, a girl who is one year older than herself. After Margaret accidently gets glue in her hair, Clementine helps Margaret cut her hair off, getting herself in trouble with the principal and with Margaret’s Mom. Feeling sorry for her friend, Clementine engages in a series of actions, which become increasingly outrageous, in an attempt to repair her friendship with Margaret. Of course, with each passing day, Clementine gets deeper and deeper into trouble as a result. Clementine has a nose for trouble, but a heart of gold. How will her week end?
What I liked and disliked about it: “Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling…Clementine!!” Yes, she is a darling, that Clementine. What I loved about this book is that we are treated to the inner workings of an 8-year old girl’s mind. And, dare I add that, given I have an 8-year old daughter, it was a pretty accurate representation. For example, at one point, the principal asks Clementine what happened to her hair. The reader follows along Clementine’s stream of thoughts (more like a torrent, quite frankly), which were only a few moments in time, at which point the principal repeats her question. Clementine responds: “Do you have a tattoo?”
“What?” Mrs. Rice asked. “Clementine, we were talking about your hair!”
“That was a long time ago, ” I reminded her.
Oh yes, how her mind wanders!
Clementine is lovingly quirkly. For example, she states that the most beautiful names are on the labels on things in the bathroom; thus, naming her cats Fluoride, Mascara, and Laxative! There are many examples of such cleverness throughout the story. Examples include describing her Mom, who is angry, as “saying things I have never heard a TV mother say”; claiming that all the good food is round; or, stating her grown-up plans to smoke cigars, own a gorilla, and to not get married. Clearly her Dad and Mom are partly responsible for this quirkiness. Her Mom is an artist and her Dad, who is the manager of the apartment complex where they live, demonstrates his own ingenuity and imagination around the Great Pigeon Wars – in which Clementine plays a key role in bringing the peace.
Threaded throughout the story is the theme of friendship – – that is, how to deal with friendship issues, how to be a good friend, and how to accept our friends for who they are. While there are plenty of examples of funny moments in the book, this really is a story about friendship. Clementine demonstrated typical 8 year-old feelings and thoughts around friendship issues: wanting to help a friend, feelings of jealousy, being angry with a friend, and finally making amends with a friend. I thought the author did a great job of developing a hugely likable main character in Clementine (I dare you not to fall in love with her) and providing an entertaining story about the ups and downs of friendship.
I’m likely to make this kind of a statement in a few of my reviews, but sometimes I was asking myself, “Where is the parental supervision?” When Clementine’s Dad sees that she is upset, he hands her the keys to the building’s service elevator and lets her ride up and down by herself (apparently this makes her feel better). Clementine also runs to the store by herself to buy Cheerios for one of the neighbors. It must be a very friendly, safe neighborhood, where nothing bad ever happens. Ok, just had to get that off my chest!
My bottom line: I really, really, really liked this book. Ok, ok…I loved Clementine! I loved the way she shared her thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities. Oh, if only I could get into my own 8 year-old’s head that way! What would I find? This book was very entertaining and I highly recommend it for girls 7+. I think they would fall in love with Clementine too.
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