Clementine

by Sara Pennypacker (2006)

In Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker, we experience life through the viewpoint of Clementine, a feisty, firecracker of a third-grade girl, who is having a really bumpy week. It starts of on Monday with trying to help a friend who has glue in her hair and having everything go wrong…and the week goes downhill from there.

Students will easily identify with Clementine’s various challenges: being unfairly accused, helping out parents with necessary projects, and having to make all sorts of amends. Oh and the endless stream of “Clementine, you need to pay attention.”  Of course, Clementine does pay attention, which is why she is the only one who sees the lunchroom lady kissing the janitor in his car!  Don’t worry, though.  Our spunky protagonist faces mishaps, figures out solutions, and then resolves everything with inspiring aplomb.

We travel along with Clementine as she navigates home and school.  At home, we see all sorts of parenting styles, along with siblings who are both exasperating and deeply enjoyable.  At school, friendships are forged and tested, often in hilarious ways. Teachers and the principal are continually surprised, confused, and awed by the inventive thought of third graders.  And when you’ve finished with Clementine, the words “Pay Attention,” as prodded by a teacher, will never sound the same again.

At 136 pages, Clementine is an approachable Intro Title for One School, One Book. It can be read in two or three weeks by beginning readers and their families.  And the whimsical illustrations by Marla Frazee help support new chapter-book listeners.  After such a lovely romp through Clementine, families will be ready to explore longer, more complex novels.