Wednesday, April 3, 2013

danyelle recommends Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker

If you love the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker, or if you've never read them, check out the newest addition to the series -- the sixth (and second to last) book, Clementine and the Spring Trip.

In spring, when the weather warms up, the students at Clementine’s school go on field trips.  This year the third and fourth graders are going to Plimoth Plantation, and third-grader Clementine and her dirt-phobic friend, fourth-grader Margaret, agree to be partners for the excursion.  Clementine will “touch anything that looks filthy” so that Margaret doesn’t have to get dirty, and Margaret will help Clementine figure out how to eat quietly--a necessity for the trip because the fourth graders have a strict silent-eating rule, but their plans fall apart when Clementine’s teacher assigns her to partner with the new girl at school, Olive.  He assures Clementine that he knows she will make Olive feel comfortable.

On the trip to Plimoth Plantation, Clementine spends time with a chicken and decides that she cannot eat her quiet chicken sandwich for lunch.  When Olive offers to share her lunch of humus, pita chips, celery sticks, and apples, Clementine knows the fourth graders will go crazy when Olive takes her first bite, so Clementine breaks the silent-eating rule as loudly as she can.  Soon others join in, gulping, crunching, and snicking, and Clementine discovers she can make her own rules.

The story comes to life told through Clementine’s voice which is fresh and third-grade perfect (with the charming exception of knowing more unusual vegetables than any third grader I have met: mung bean, watercress, Swiss chard, kohlrabi).  She is independent, thoughtful, and dramatic.  Vivid imagery gives the reader a chance to experience life as Clementine sees it:  “eyelids snapped open like cartoon window shades”; the chicken “was so pretty that it could have been a chicken-shaped sugar cookie-one that was all speckled with butterscotch sprinkles and had a red-frosting Mohawk on top of its head”; and she describes herself as being like a Clementine with “lots of different sections” (89, 85, 110).  Her description of Principal Rice’s shoes as “car seat shoes” is accurate and hilarious (101).

Spot pictures by Marla Frazee (several per chapter) complement the text and add to the energetic mood of the story.

Clementine and the Spring Trip
by Sara Pennypacker
illustrated by Marla Frazee
published by Hyperion Books
March 2013
Recommended for ages 7-10

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