The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker is one in a series of transitional books about an eight year old girl called Clementine, who is a bit of a misfit, but who has a whole heap of endearing talents and quirks that make her a delight to read about. Illustrations by Marla Frazee add to the charm of these easy to read, short chapter books for girls between the ages of six and ten.
I picked this book up to test it, because it mentioned on the dust jacket that it would appeal to fans of Judy Blume. I read and reread Judy Blume books as a child, some of my particular favourites being the stories about Fudge, the mischievous school boy and his beleagured brother, Pete.
I have tried to interest my own children in the books, as well as children at school, and they find them rather too long winded and wordy, and I have had little success, which is such a shame, as the stories are glorious.
I was interested to find anything that might be able to compete at a more ‘modern’ angle.
Clementine is a winner.
In this story, Clementine is worried about school because there is going to be a talent show at the end of the week and she has no talents.
She spends her week alternating between finding ways she can get herself out of the talent contest, and trying to discover new talents that might mean she could actually take part. Her ideas and approaches are fresh and funny and will appeal to both boys and girls, although the book is clearly marketed at a girl audience.
Clementine ends up solving her problem in a most unexpected and rather lovely way.
The book is tender and thoughtful without being cutesy and moralistic. It is funny and yet never cruel. It is charming.
I loved this book and am now looking for the others in the series. I will be recommending we stock these on the shelves in our school library. It would be a lovely book to share in class with a teacher, or at home with your children. If you are reading it aloud to a child it may well work for younger children, aged from five up. For independent reading I would recommend it for sevens and up.