Sunday, December 18, 2011

Clementine and the Family Meeting

Clementine and the Family Meeting. Sara Pennypacker. Illustrations by Marla Frazee. 2011. Hyperion. 164 pages.

The very first thing Margaret said when she sat down next to me on the bus Monday was that I looked terrible.

The fifth Clementine novel may just be the best. (Or do I say that each time a new Clementine?!)  The first four novels in this wonderfully-delightful-must-read series are: Clementine (2006), The Talented Clementine (2007)Clementine's Letter (2008), Clementine, Friend of the Week (2010).

I love and adore Clementine. I do. I love her personality, love her narration, love her family, love her neighbors (Margaret and her older brother, Mitchell), love her friends, love her classmates, love her teachers, love her principal.

I love seeing Clementine with her family. I love seeing the interaction between family members. Her conversations with her mom, her conversations with her dad. And then there's Clementine's little brother. She calls him a different vegetable name every single time she refers to him. And most of the time, well, she thinks of him as a little bother. Someone not really worth having a relationship with. But things begin to change...perhaps a bit slowly...in this fifth novel. For she begins to see, perhaps just a bit, that her brother is a person. There's a very, very sweet scene--though not mushy by any means--where her brother chooses HER to read to him his bedtime story. Another favorite scene of mine shows Clementine with her Dad at Home Depot, I believe. She wants a tool belt exactly like his.

Anyway, Clementine and the Family Meeting is a novel about changes, about how it's okay to have conflicting feelings about changes. That changes can bring a mix of emotions and feelings. You might be scared, worried, happy, sad, or even mad. Changes might make you more confused than anything else. There's going to be a BIG, BIG, BIG change in July for the family. Clementine will be getting a new brother or sister. And how does Clementine feel about the situation? Well, you'll just have to read and see for yourself!!!

But Clementine isn't just worried about one not-so-little thing. Clementine wouldn't be Clementine if there weren't more going on in her life to distract her. She's also worried about her science project and her science partner. About the rat, Eighteen, which was her and Waylan's project. Eighteen escaped and can't be found anywhere....

So I definitely recommend this one. If you've read the first few in the series, you probably don't need me to convince you how great the books are. If you haven't met Clementine yet, you should seek her out. But start at the beginning. That would probably be best!!!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

2 comments:

Playing by the book said...

I read this book as part of the cybils judging. It was my first Clementine book (I'm in the UK, and they are not well known over here) and I have to admit that the book did not live up to my expectations. It was fine, but I had expected (after reviews like yours) to be really wowed. I didn't know about the brother being called different vegetables so that was rather confusing for me (obviously wouldn't be if I started with the 1st in the series), and then I found it slightly odd that Clementine is held up as a spunky little girl, a positive role model, and yet her family are still quite conservative - her dad is the one that tells the news of the baby, he's the one that calls the shots at the family meetings. It's like the mum can't talk for herself (not such a great role model for kids). Maybe it's just that I read it out of order....

Becca Lostinbooks said...

Great review, Becky!