The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

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The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Further adventures of the idiosyncratic little girl who creates havoc wherever she goes. It's witty and lively and has an important message for primary schoolers about valuing themselves.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 0340956992

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She's back! Our favourite nutty third-grader Clementine has a new trial to face. Her teacher has announced Talent-Palooza, an upcoming show that will showcase the entire school's talents. Including Clementine's. There's just one problem. Clementine doesn't think she has any talents. After trying, and failing, to extricate herself from attending the talent show at all, she sets about trying to find one. Bottle-top tap-dancing is out after the residents of her building object to flat (bottle-topless) beer. Hound Dog impersonations are out after her parents refuse to allow her to put her baby brother on a lead.

It's not looking good. And, a catalogue of disasters later, the dreaded evening arrives...

The thing is, Clementine has a good heart and is really only trying to please. Her long-suffering parents do see this, and they do their very best to mediate their way through the chaos. Her readers may not be quite so accident-prone as Clementine, but they're certain to understand all her motives. She's wonderfully observed - prey to the worries and jealousies that all children are prey to, impulsive, and bouncing with the joy of the moment. She gets a lot of things wrong, but in truth, there's absolutely nothing wrong with her. She may not have much in the way of peer-group kudos talents - dancing, gymnastics, playing of musical instruments, drama - like her friend Margaret, but she does have lots to offer. She just needs to understand that.

Pennypacker allows Clementine herself to narrate. She chooses vocabulary wisely and coaxes young readers along with a great sense of rhythm and dollops of wry humour. There are some laugh-out-loud moments: Clementine's definition of creme brulee is vanilla custard that's been blasted on top with a blowtorch and she is not even kidding about that. Ha.

Primary school girls are going to love Clementine, I'm quite sure of that.

My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.

For an English Clementine, look no further than Forever Rose (Casson Family) by Hilary McKay. Nobody should miss Someday Angeline by Louis Sachar.

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Buy The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker at


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