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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Move Over Junie B., There's A New Kid in Town

If you love Junie B. Jones, you're going to be thrilled to meet Clementine, star of Sara Pennypacker's series of books for younger readers (aged 7-10). She's every bit as spunky as Junie B., but less obnoxious (you gotta love that). My 6-year-old daughter (a big Junie B. fan) loved Clementine so much that she read this book twice in one evening! Imagine my delight when I glanced at the author's very cute website this morning and discovered that she's written not one, but 3 books about this irrepressible 8-year-old. Looks like I'm going to be visiting the "P" aisle in the children's section of the library sometime very soon.

So, The Talented Clementine is the second book in the series. It opens with an announcement by Clementine's teacher: To raise money for the school, the 4th and 5th graders will be holding a talent show. The rest of the kids are excited, but Clementine is "N-O-T, not" (2). All her classmates have acts they are dying to perform, but she has a problem - she has no talents. Her friend Margaret has a skill for every letter of the alphabet - Clementine can't even do sitting properly! What's a girl to do?

Since moving to Egypt to avoid the show is out of the question, Clementine embarks on a search for her special talent. Juggling proves disastrous, tap-dancing dangerous, and sticking a leash on her brother isn't a very big hit with the parents. Her father reminds her that she's good at math, art and noticing things, but none of those things are very performable. As the day of the talent show comes closer, Clementine still can't figure out what to do. It's only when she sees a need that she realizes she can fill it with her own unique talents.

Clementine endures plenty of bumps and bruises on her search, which makes for a funny, fast-paced read. Although our heroine's voice sounds familiar (think Junie B.), it's still fresh enough to be engaging. Her hilarious observations will make you smile, if not laugh out loud. The book ends on a sweet note, creating the perfect finale for this fun, fulfilling story. I loved it.

P.S. I always hate it when reviewers label something "laugh-out-loud funny," because I rarely find myself guffawing audibly when I read. So, here's my evidence that this book really is that funny:

"No, thank you," I said, extra politely. "What I'd like is to go to Mrs. Rice's office."

"Clementine, you don't need to go see the principal," my teacher said. "You're not in any trouble."

"Well, it's just a matter of time," I told him. (3)

"It's a surprise," my mouth said without me even telling it to. Which was not a lie, because if I did anything at all up on that stage next weekend, it would be a pretty big surprise, all right.

And then I pressed my mouth into a ruler line for the rest of the bus ride so it couldn't say anymore surprises" (16).

I don't know why my teacher bothered with sending Maria and Norris to the nurse. All she ever does when you go in to tell her how sick you are is roll her eyes. She always looks bored, as if she's just killing time until a really good disease hits the school. Maria and Norris could have head lumps the size of toasters, and all our nurse would do is hand them a frozen sponge. (45)

See what I mean? Funny. Cute. Irresistible. Read the books.


Grade: A


  1. Small world. My daughter discovered Clementine last week. She is on the third book and loving them!

  2. I hope my daughter will loves these! I'm going to check them out.

  3. Definately going to check these out - my 8 year old son loves Junie B., but I find her a bit annoying after a while! (But in truth, when I'm reading out loud to the kids, I often laugh out loud at some of the funny things Junie B says....)

  4. I just read these this month and LOVED them. LOVE, LOVE! Did I say LOVE?

  5. We just got the first of these at the library after reading your review. My 9-year-old daughter is loving it. It must be interesting, because while she was reading she stopped to ask me, "Mom, what's a laxative?"

  6. I'm glad your kids are liking Clementine, too. I haven't made it to the library yet to check out the rest of the series - hopefully soon!

    Chain Reader - LOL. I can't wait to see what that's all about!


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