Sometimes, it's hard for Clementine to like her best friend Margaret. Clementine is in third grade, and she hates when Margaret uses her I'm-in-fourth-grade voice. Clementine isn't allowed to touch any of Margaret's stuff. Most annoying, Margaret is never told to "pay attention." Clementine is paying attention, though . . . just not to her classwork.
When Margaret gets glue in her hair during art class, Clementine helps by trimming off the rest of Margaret's hair. Borrowing her mother's markers, Clementine then creates on Margaret's nearly bald head a few locks as flaming red as her own. Clementine's creativity is rewarded with yet another trip to the principal's office. Margaret tells Clementine that she must be "the hard one," because every family has a "hard" and an "easy" child.
Clementine later overhears her parents planning a good-bye party, and she fears that they have finally decided to get rid of their "hard one" and keep only her little brother, the easy child. Clementine decides she has to fix things—and fast! Can Clementine learn to harness her creativity to help her family?
Sara Pennypacker has a gift for using observational humor and her heroine is smart, sassy and hilarious. Readers will laugh as Clementine tries to "change the subject" in the principal's office and discusses how all the most exquisite names can be found on labels in the bathroom.
Marla Frazee's delightful black-and-white drawings capture the whimsical nature of Clementine and the ever-so-slightly stuffy Margaret. Children will love the expressive faces on Frazee's characters, especially the look they teach in Principal School (which Clementine feels is "not very nice.") o
Any child told to "pay attention" is sure to fall in love with Clementine, a humorous and heartwarming tale of acceptance, friendship and unconditional love.
Tracy Marchini works at a literary agency in Manhattan. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
Third-grader Clementine feels lucky that spectacular ideas (like cutting her friend's hair) are continually "sproinging up" in her brain, but her parents and other adults don't feel the same way. Clementine's first-person narration is fresh and winsome, and the episodic plot is layered yet accessible. Frazee's pen-and-ink illustrations bounce along the pages with the same energy as the story. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #1
Third-grader Clementine feels lucky that spectacular ideas are continually "sproinging up" in her brain, but her best friend, parents, teacher, and principal don't see things in quite the same way. In one short but eventful week Clementine finds herself in the principal's office again and again, struggling to explain perfectly reasonable behavior to increasingly impatient adults. Why, for example, can't her friend Margaret's mother appreciate that Clementine was trying to help when she cut off all of Margaret's long shining hair with plastic school scissors? Clementine's first-person narration is fresh and winsome, and the episodic plot is accessible to young readers but includes details and layers that add a richness rare in short chapter books. Frazee's abundant pen-and-ink illustrations bounce along the pages with the same energy as the story: socks sag, hair sticks out at odd angles, and affection shines through each of the drawings. When everything seems to be going wrong, and Clementine fears that her parents are ready to give her away, the very same skills that usually land her in trouble come to her rescue. The ending of Pennypacker's very funny book is as happy for Clementine as it is for her readers. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 July #2
Maybe it was because third-grader Clementine was a little bit angry with her best friend Margaret that things got out of hand with the scissors and the permanent markers and the hair. Or maybe she really was just trying to help. In short chapters, set in the city apartment building her father manages or the school where she has some tough days, Clementine relates the events of the trying week she discovered she was the difficult child in her family and thought she was about to be given away. Middle-grade readers will sympathize with Clementine's conflicted feelings about her friend and her family, and laugh out loud at her impulsive antics, narrated in a fresh first-person voice and illustrated with plenty of humor. Just like her family they will cheer when she comes up with a way to end The Great Pigeon War as well as the temporary rift with her friend. Energetic and imaginative, Clementine is gifted with understanding and patient parents. Give this to readers of Cleary and Blume and cross your fingers for more. (Fiction. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - February 2007
This humorous novel for young readers is reminiscent of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby and Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones. The author has created a character who is lovable and very realistic. Clementine is in third grade and is a very unique and determined young girl filled with good intentions that don't always work out the way she hopes. People are always telling her to "pay attention." Several elements are key to the story - her relationship with her friend Margaret; missing her cat who dies before the story starts; her desire to help people, especially her dad with his pigeon problem; and worrying over the fact that she thinks her parents like her little brother better than they do her. This book makes a fine introduction to chapter books for upper primary grades; kids will relate to the funny situations. The pen and ink illustrations complement the storyline. They are especially good in showing what Clementine herself draws and thinks. This book would make a funny and fairly quick read-aloud too. I think it will become a favorite with your students. Recommended. Melinda Miller-Widrick, K-12 Library Media Specialist, Colton (New York)-Pierrepont Central School Â© 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 August #1
I have had not so good of a week," begins the irrepressible narrator of this winning caper. Pennypacker (Stuart's Cape ) then takes readers straight through that week, making clear that Clementine has an unfailing nose for trouble and a comical way with words. The eight-year-old proclaims herself lucky because "spectacularful ideas are always sproinging up in my brain." One of these ideas concerns her fourth-grade friend and neighbor Margaret getting glue in her hair, and Clementine's attempt to help; together they cut off nearly all of Margaret's long locks. Further strategies involve the use of permanent markers and Clementine undergoing a sympathy coif. Frazee's black-and-white illustrations of the close-cropped gals captures the mixed emotions of their shared fate. Her portraits of the heroine's three-year-old brother, "who didn't get stuck with a fruit name," and whom Clementine calls by various vegetable names, including "Spinach," "Lima Bean" and "Pea Pod," may remind readers of the charming star of Frazee's Walk On! Along with the humorous bits, Pennypacker seamlessly weaves into the narrative common third-grade themes, such as Clementine comparing Margaret's neatly dressed banker mother with her own overalls-clad artist mother, and envying Margaret her kitten from the litter of Clementine's own lately deceased cat, Polka Dottie. Luckily, Clementine ends her week on an up note. Fans of Judy Moody will welcome this portrait of another funny, independent third-grader. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)[Page 59]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 2-4 Clementine, a not-so-common third grader, knows her way around the principal's office as well as she does the art-supply closet. Daily rituals take on a different view when seen from her eyes. She's constantly being told that she needs to pay attention, but to her mind she is paying attention and making astute observations. Whether looking out the window during the Pledge of Allegiance at the janitor locked in an embrace with the lunch lady or dealing with a pesky pigeon problem at her apartment building, her concentration is always focused. Clementine goes to great lengths to be friends with fourth-grade neighbor, Margaret, but more times than not, both girls end up in trouble. Humorous scenarios tumble together, blending picturesque dialogue with a fresh perspective as only the unique Clementine can offer. When the protagonist pleads to skip school because of a self-inflicted haircut fiasco, she tries to convince her mom that she must have caught arthritis from old Mrs. Jacobi or has possibly come down with the heartbreak of sore irises. Frazee's engaging pen-and-ink drawings capture the energy and fresh-faced expressions of the irrepressible heroine. And even though she confesses that I do not think fathers should be comedians, her parents are portrayed as being fairly cool. A delightful addition to any beginning chapter-book collection.Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH[Page 123]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.