The Talented Clementine: Another young-ish Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Talented Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla FrazeeWriter Sarah Pennypacker and illustrator Marla Frazee join forces once again to continue exploring the adventures of Clementine, a very unique third grader with a very big problem in The Talented Clementine (2007) (the second book in the Clementine series).

In order to raise money for the school, Clementine’s class is going to have a talent show where every student is expected to take part. That’s all well and good if you have a talent, but Clementine doesn’t seem to have any. Every other kid (literally) in the class is doing cartwheels. Her best friend, lovably-snooty Margaret the fourth grader, is going to explain how to dress fashionably. Everyone seems to have a great act. Except for Clementine.

In her search for a talent, Clementine discovers a lot of things she can do like math in her head better than her own father or Margaret’s brother (who is not, Clementine is quick to point out, her boyfriend). But you can’t do math in a talent show. Margaret tries to pass one of her numerous, and alphabetized, talents to Clementine. But after an ill-advised encounter with beer bottle caps, glue, and a pair of sneakers that seems like maybe not the best idea.

Just as Clementine is at the end of the rope, sure she has nothing to offer to the show–her school’s principal realizes something Clementine had missed bringing everyone’s new favorite third grader out on top.

I really loved the first installment in this series (Clementine) and was thrilled to find that The Talented Clementine is just as good. Pennypacker keeps all of the good things from the first book while expanding the characters here. This book spends more time at Clementine’s school and with Clementine’s very cool, very likable mom and dad.

I also like that the book has some real drama as Clementine struggles to find a talent without getting too sad. By the end of the story everything is okay and, more importantly perhaps, Clementine and readers realize that everyone does have a talent (even if it’s not always something you can perform on stage).

Frazee’s illustrations continue to add to the prose making Clementine and her world even more vibrant than the text already does. The continuity is also admirable. It is clear from the illustrations of Margaret that her hair is growing out. Which, believe it or not, brings me to the next point: While the stories do work together, this book can stand alone. It would, of course, be better to read the series in order but not vital.

I dare say “The Talented Clementine” is as good as its predecessor Clementine and am anxiously awaiting the third installment in the series (Clementine’s Letter is scheduled to release this April). I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Clementine is a vivid, independent character who has the capacity to make reading fun for readers of all ages.

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