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Review of Completely Clementine

pennypacker_completely clementineCompletely Clementine
by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Marla Frazee
Primary, Intermediate   Disney-Hyperion   181 pp.
3/15   978-1-4231-2358-3   $14.99   g

In this series-ender, third grade is almost over, but Clementine is far from ready to say goodbye to her familiar classmates and supportive teacher. Mr. D’Matz keeps trying to tell her about all the ways she’s grown and changed since entering his class (Clementine, rev. 1/07, and sequels), but all Clementine hears when he talks about baby chicks ready to spread their wings is “his favorite story about how great it is when perfectly happy, unsuspecting birds get kicked off their branches.” Meanwhile, she’s not speaking to her father over an argument about vegetarianism, her new baby sibling is due any day, and her friend Margaret’s mother is about to get married. All this change and clamor is handled with the series’s signature light touch, mixing compassion, humor (often a function of Clementine’s tart perspective on various situations), and respect for Clementine’s very real, very relatable anxieties. The plot unfolds gently onward, seamlessly interweaving threads that are just right for their audience. Frazee’s breezy pen-and-ink half-page, full-page, and spot illustrations capture Clementine’s frenetic energy and goofy panache to expand upon already rich portrayals of her frazzled-but-loving parents, patient teacher, and similarly beset classmates. A warm, bittersweet sendoff for a beloved literary friend.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Claire Gross About Claire Gross

Claire Gross is the youth librarian at the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library and a former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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