Middle Grade

Age Range:
7-10 years

Grade Level:
2 – 5

Published by
Disney-Hyperion Books

Text © 2006
by Sara Pennypacker

Illustrated © 2006
by Marla Frazee




A New York Times Bestseller
2008 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award (Grades 3-6)
2008 William Allen White Children’s Book Award – KS (Grades 3-5)
2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Winner
2008 Great Lakes Great Books Award Winner
Winner of the 2007 Josette Frank Book Award (Bank Street College Book Committee)
Winner of the 2007 Sid Fleishman Award (
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2006
A 2006 Child Magazine Best Book of the Year
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
A 2006 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A 2006 National Parenting Publication Gold Award Winner
A Book Sense Winter 2006-2007 Children’s Top Ten Pick
A 2006 Nick Jr. Family Magazine’s Best Book of the Year
A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year 2006


Clementine always has “great ideas popping into her head.”  She’s like a balloon, exalted up, and then POP, life deflates and she’s back to square one.  Sara Pennypacker brilliantly invites the reader to share Clementine’s ups and downs, by showing the reader how the precocious Clementine thinks, through detailed action that is followed by the protagonist’s reflection.

If I had to draw a balloon to depict Clementine, it’d be orange. The balloon would have a happy face drawn with “sparkle glitter paint” on one side and a sad face on the opposite side, drawn in permanent Red marker.  Around the entire drawing would be a window for the reader to look through.

I am in awe of Marla Frazee’s ability to capture Clementine’s energy. Her fine-lined sketches convey curiosity with a wrinkle in a shirt, swirl of a lock and lift of a brow. She makes the impossible look easy.KEM Sapphire

CLEMENTINE felt like catching up with an old friend. I, too, had an oh-so-perfect neighbor girl, an “easy” younger sibling, an artist mom, and a dad who dealt with pesky animals* and their splat.

Sara Pennypacker’s descriptions give readers a colorful, hilarious view of Clementine’s world, and her daily, eight-year-old antics and frustrations.

Marla Frazee’s pen and ink drawings offer a visual treat on nearly every page. Her clean, graphic line carries Clementine’s energy through the story and, as with all of Frazee’s work, looks like she just whipped it up over breakfast.

This gem, just published in 2008, has the classic charm of a book that has already stood the test of time.

*Ours were cattle, not pigeons.

Favorite line
“Then we just sat there together watching the pigeons flock back to our building for the night. We listened to them cooing above us, sounding like a million old ladies with secrets.”KEM Diamond


Writer friend Melissa quoted Clementine at a recent meet-up: “Someone should tell you not to answer the phone in the principal’s office, if that’s a rule.” Admiration spittle (mine) dribbled on my manuscript.

Sara Pennypacker created a believable, delightful protagonist in a universe where “Go for Wok?” leads to a sibling bonding ritual and magic marker heals hair disasters. Clementine’s thoughtful distractions  amuse and disarm people of all ages–even her best friend’s older brother–a formidable feat for a third grader.

Marla Frazee’s wit and talent complements Sara’s.  Her personality-packed illustrations lift Clementine to a whole new level of cute.

Favorite line
“… I carried the kittens into the bathroom and looked around until I found them beautiful names. Flouride and Laxative went to live with people who answered the Free Kittens, Hurry! ad my dad put in the paper …”GEMrub

BOOK TRAILER (by Briana Bancroft)

Please, share your CLEMENTINE comments, too!

7 thoughts on “CLEMENTINE

  1. Format changes require that I reapprove the following comments:

    Melissa on January 17, 2014 at 12:03 am said:

    It’s not often that I come across a line in a children’s book that I have to read 7 times, and set the book down for 10 minutes, just to think about it. Marras quoted that line above…

    “Someone should tell you not to answer the phone in the principal’s office, if that’s a rule.”

    Allow me to English Major Geek-Out over those 17 words. It’s been said that every good story should contain a little mystery, and Pennypacker masterfully packs several mysteries on the first page, in one deceptively simple line.

    Why is Clementine in the principal’s office?

    Who is on the phone?

    Who does she think she is, picking up someone else’s phone?

    What other rules has this kid broken?

    Is Clementine a hooligan, always in trouble?

    There’s a lot of mystery in this sentence, that still has the clear voice of a third grader. With writing this good, no wonder the book earned so many starred reviews.

    Marla Frazee mirrors that clear voice with clean (and again, deceptively simple) lines.

    This author and artist pair show an ease of energy and emotion that I’d happily witness over and over at “Talent-Palooza!”

  2. Randy on January 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm said:

    I read this and was pleasantly surprised. The story has a great “voice” and a fun ADHD protagonist whose behavior or solutions only make situations worse. However, I’d classify this as a book that’s for readers who don’t care much about plot. Why?

    Per the cute opening line, the story’s simply about the protagonist’s “not so good of a week.” The eventual main plot turns out to be a misunderstanding, which wipes out any type of character arc. Thus, I’d liken this book to a TV sitcom, where characters stay the same and repeat mistakes every week.

    The book’s a quick read and will be enjoyed by those who love fun characters. But for readers who like more action/plot to go with interesting characters, other books are probably a better choice. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • On January 26, 2014 at 11:01 am I said:

      Thanks for your comments, Randy. We always learn from your insightful observations.

      Let us know of any action-packed, character-driven books we can put on our potential KEM GEM list–especially in the easy reader/chapter book category.

      Hope you’ll join us again in February for MICK HARTE WAS HERE.

      • Randy
        on January 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm said:

        LOL, I don’t think you can have a novel that’s both character-driven AND plot-driven! For young-reader stories with interesting/fun characters and that are plot-driven (i.e the story direction/goal is apparent early on, and there’s plenty of activity), these might be candidates:

        1) Gary Paulson’s LAWN BOY (and sequel)?
        2) Neil Gaiman’s FORTUNATELY THE MILK (extreme silliness and tons of cool illustrations)?

        For older MG, perhaps:

        1) Roald Dahl’s THE WITCHES? (Audio book is awesome)
        2) Tom Angleberger’s THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA (great series that’s also got lots of silly illustrations)?
        3) Dave Barry’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS (series, I’ve only read the first two though)? (Audiobook is good)

        You’ll never make everyone happy though!

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