Book: Clementine and the Spring Trip
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Age Range: 6-8
As I've said many times on this blog, I love Clementine. She's one of my favorite children's book characters, and I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to appreciate her. So when I was browsing in a bookstore last week and spotted this book on the shelf, in paperback, I didn't hesitate to buy a copy. And over the weekend I treated myself to a visit with Clementine and her family.
In Clementine and the Spring Trip, Clementine is a bit nervous about the upcoming field trip that her third-grade class is taking with the fourth graders. Her friend Margaret is in fourth grade, and continually warns Clementine that loud eating is not allowed among the fourth graders. Clementine worries about what she'll take for lunch that won't crunch or snick, or any of various other noise-related offenses. She also worries that her class will end up on the school bus that has "The Cloud", a truly horrific stink.
Meanwhile, a new girl in Clementine's class, Olive, has Clementine feeling a bit left out. And Clementine's family is preparing for the arrival, in a few months, of a new baby. Her mother is having cravings, and ranting more than usual about social issues. Margaret's family is undergoing changes, too, leaving Margaret more cleanliness-obsessed than ever. [Margaret is actually a really interesting character - she's going to need therapy one day, I think, but Clementine takes her in stride, and understands her issues.]
Like the other Clementine books, Clementine and the Spring Trip has some nice nods to Boston, like this:
"Mitchell acts extra Mitchelly in the spring too. Not because of the weather, but because the Red Sox are back in town. According to Mitchell, the Red Sox are the greatest team in the history of the universe, and it's just a matter of time before they ask him to play for them." (Page 5-6)
And some fun Clementine-isms, like this:
"I dropped the tape and spun around, because elevator doors are like game-show prize doors: until they open, you never know what valuable stuff is hiding behind them. Okay, fine--in our building, it's usually just the same old people, riding up and down from their condos." (Page 43)
"When you are pregnant you get to eat whatever you want, together with whatever else you want, whenever you want it, just by saying the magic words: "I'm having a craving." (Page 63)
That last quote made me laugh out loud. I also continue to adore Marla Frazee's illustrations, and the way that she completely nails Clementine and her family.
And yet, I must admit that Clementine and the Spring Trip is not going to stand out as my favorite of the series. The conclusion felt a bit over the top to me (including the presence of a plot-resolving coincidence), and a couple of aspects seemed a bit message-y. The last couple of chapters left me a little flat.
I still love Clementine, but I didn't end up loving this particular book. I liked it, sure, but I didn't love it overall. Not to worry, I'll still be eagerly awaiting the next book. And all libraries should certainly pick up Clementine and the Spring Trip.
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Bought it at Books, Inc.
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