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Clementine and the Family Meeting: Sara Pennypacker

Book: Clementine and the Family Meeting
Author: Sara Pennypacker (@sarapennypacker)
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Pages: 176
Age Range: 7-10 

I've said it before, and I'm sure that I'll say it again. I LOVE Clementine. The Clementine books, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee, are hands down my favorite series for early elementary school kids. They are perfect for second or third graders, either for a classroom read-aloud or for independent reading. 

In Clementine and the Family Meeting, Clementine and her brother learn (this is not much of a spoiler - the reveal happens in chapter two) that their mother is going to have another baby. Brussell Sprout doesn't know how to react to this news, but Clementine does. And she is N-O-T NOT happy. Will the best efforts of Clementine's Dad, her school principal, and her understanding teacher be enough to help Clementine to accept the coming change? Fans will just have to see.

Here are some reasons why I loved Clementine and the Family Meeting:

  • The father-daughter relationship is pitch-perfect.
  • Clementine feels real, from her itchy skin to have bruised legs. 
  • Clementine is determinedly herself at all times. When her best friend Margaret starts to act older (wearing makeup and such), Clementine feels sad, but has absolutely no interest in making such changes herself.
  • Marla Frazee's illustrations capture Clementine, and her developing young brother, perfectly. 
  • Clementine loves science, and spends a lot of time thinking about her school science project (and worrying about her lost experiment rat). 
  • While Clementine does start to warm up to the idea of her new sibling, she does this slowly and believably. There's no magic switch turned. And no preachiness. 

Really, as with all of the other books in the series, it comes down to Clementine's voice. Here are a few of the many quotes that I flagged:

"Whenever Margaret talks about makeup, I feel exactly the way I felt when we took my grandparents to the airport so they could move to Florida: lonely. Even though Margaret isn't going anywhere, when she talks about makeup, I feel like I'm back at the airport again and she's getting on a plane for a long trip to somewhere without me." (Page 4-5)

""What's on the agenda?" I asked. Agenda is Latin for "list of stuff to talk about," so when you say it, you're saving your mouth a lot of work. Plus, you sound smart." (Page 21)

"I heaved such a deep sigh into my mug that my hot chocolate sloshed. Waiting is my hardest thing." (Page 22)

I could go on, but you get the idea. The Clementine books in general are must-read titles for new-to-chapter-book readers. Clementine and the Family Meeting lives up to its predecessors, and would be a particularly good fit for any child facing a change in their family structure. Fans of the series will not want to miss it. And if you haven't gotten to know Clementine yet, all I can say is: what are you waiting for? Highly recommended for all readers, age 7 and up (also suitable for read-aloud to younger children - I can't wait until Baby Bookworm is old enough). 

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Source of Book: Bought it with a birthday gift card

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).