Monday, April 07, 2008

Clementine's Letter: The Good News and The Bad News

I just finished CLEMENTINE'S LETTER by Sara Pennypacker. I picked it up Tuesday--on the day it came out. I must say, driving to the bookstore felt a bit like driving to the airport to pick up an old friend who was coming into town for a visit. I was thrilled that Clementine was back!

I must say that I was a little worried at first--how could I possibly love this 3rd book about Clementine as much as I had loved the first two? I figured it was really nearly impossible.
The GOOD NEWS is that I did! I just now closed the cover and must say that this may be my very favorite Clementine book. I loved, loved, loved it. Clementine is as lovable and clever as ever and the story was as good as ever.

Bill at Literate Lives listed his 10 Reasons for Loving Clementine. I agree with each and every one of them! And I think I could probably add 10 more. Maybe 100.

One of my favorite thing about Clementine is the way that she understands school and teachers. In my review of THE TALENTED CLEMENTINE, I reviewed all of the very smart things she said about teachers. Quite the insightful girl! But in this book, we see that Clementine really does have school and teachers figured out. She is an independent girl who needs things to make sense. And she has lots of strategies for doing this.

This book is a refreshing read during testing time. Sara Pennypacker understands the things that make a good school and a good classroom. Her adult characters are all respectful of children. And, school in her books, is the happy place that it should be. She somehow creates characters like Mrs. Rice (the principal) who is a bit stern, but clearly cares for Clementine. She creates characters like Mrs. Nagel who learns from Clementine. And she creates Mr. D'Matz who understands Clementine. The relationships that Clementine has with the adults in her school are so fun to read about. The teachers in the book focus on what is important--the kids.

I must say that I have not given Marla Frazee enough credit for Clementine. But, I can't imagine that this author/illustrator combo could be any more perfect in their creation of this character. The illustrations are so critical to getting to know Clementine. And, I must say, my very favorite page in the book may be the very last illustration, following the end of the text. The picture of Clementine is precious.

I don't need to talk about plot here because the plot is always secondary to the characters-even though the plot is quite good. What makes these books amazing is the characters that we have come to love in such a short time.

So, the BAD NEWS--there is no sign of a 4th Clementine book anytime soon. If anyone has news on when the next one will be out, please share! I think it is time for dolls, t-shirts, and coffee mugs.....Clementine is definitely a character that will be around forever. Write faster, Sarah!


  1. Thanks for the review, Franki. I'm so relieved to hear that this book lives up to the previous two (Megan at Read, Read, Read said so today, too). I can't wait to read it!

  2. Anonymous6:14 AM

    We cannot wait to start this book! The characters are so rich-you'll love this story. Anna (my 6 year old) was telling about a tricky event on the playground and she said, "And she was being such a Margaret." This has now become an undercover word we share; when we see, read, or watch someone being less than patient or diplomatic on a program we whisper "...such a Margaret..."

    Hooray for Clementine and Sarah and Marla!

  3. Really, Great minds do think alike! Your post is very well written. I like everything you said and nodded all the way through. I am now adding it to the end of my blog with Bill's.

  4. Anonymous5:25 PM

    I've got to get my hands on this. Pronto...

  5. I didn't even know this was on the way. I've got to start paying attention. I'm a big Clementine fan, so I'll be excited to pick up the new one.

  6. Oh, I'm so glad! My girls are huge Clementine fans.

  7. I just picked up the book yesterday at B and N. I didn't know it was out. I'm thrilled to read the review. I just finished reading the second book to my second grade class. They loved it. I can't wait to bring this back to the classroom and let the kids have at it!

  8. I can't wait to read this! I think I will have to head to the bookstore to get this for my readers at school. Every now and then, a book is worthy of not waiting for a book order. I think this fits the bill!


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