Clementine (Written by Sara Pennypacker; Illustrated by Marla Frazee)
reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chapter Book (ages 7-10)
Third-grade girl, main character
Rating: Laugh out loud funny!
Short, short summary: Clementine is the funniest third-grader I know, but she’s not having a very good week in her debut novel. Maybe she shouldn’t have cut Margaret’s hair and then drawn it back on with a marker. Maybe she shouldn’t have picked up the telephone in the principal’s office. Maybe she shouldn’t have cut off her own hair to help Margaret feel better. But Clementine is Clementine, and if she didn’t do these things, we wouldn’t love her so much. She also helps her dad with The Great Pigeon War–anyone, who has ever had a gathering of birds around a house, will relate to this on-going battle. Clementine reminded me of Ramona (by Beverly Cleary) when I read this book, and I became immediately grateful to Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee for creating a hysterical series about a little girl for today’s kids.
So, what can I do with this book?
1. This book is perfect for teaching the reading concept cause and effect. Just take Margaret’s hair for example. What is the cause of Clementine going to the principal’s office? What is the effect of Margaret not having her hair? What is the cause of Clementine cutting her hair? and so on. You could even make a cause and effect chain. You start with an event such as “Cutting Margaret’s hair,” then you draw an arrow and write the effect of the hair-cutting, and then you draw another arrow and write another effect, and so on.
2. Clementine thinks someone should tell you that it is a RULE not to pick up the telephone in the principal’s office. Of course, as adults, we know you don’t pick up someone else’s phone, but there are a lot of unwritten rules that adults expect children to know. Your own children or your students and you can have an engaging discussion about some of these unwritten rules in your classroom or at home. You can even make posters and illustrate them. Answers from children may vary as different households will have different levels of strictness. Some examples of unwritten rules could be: Don’t wear your wet swimming suit to bed. Dogs should not be petted with the same hands you are eating with. Don’t push delete on your parents’ computer when they are typing a document. We wait patiently in a bathroom line without jumping around.
Your children can come up with better rules than I did because like Clementine, they see the world through a child’s eyes. (I wish I still could!)
3. Sequencing is also a reading skill that can be taught with this book, especially since it goes through Clementine’s bad week. Students can write what happened to Clementine on different days of the week on note cards, and then they can put them in sequential order. To extend the activity, students can add their own illustrations. They may want to do pen and ink like Frazee or add some color to theirs. (This is an activity that can be done while students are reading the book.)
If you have used Clementine in your classroom and have some more activities, please leave your suggestions under comments here.
If you have a suggestion of a book you would like me to read and review, please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment here.