Monday, August 8, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker

About The Book: Coming Out on September 13th.  Clementine's having a nervous breakdown. The FAMILY MEETING! sign is up in her house, and she just knows she's in trouble for something. Has she been too mean to her little brother? Too sloppy? Eating too much junk food? Try as she might to find out what's on the agenda, her parents won't reveal anything before the meeting. As far as Clementine is concerned, the agenda should be something like: "We're getting a gorilla." But no, it's something entirely different. "We're talking about a new baby," says her father. "A brother or sister for you two. What do you think about that?" NO THANKS! is what Clementine thinks. After all, four is the perfect number for a family. There are four sides to a table, not five. Will Clementine learn to make room for one more?
      Readers will chuckle at Clementine's unique perspective on the age-old issue of sibling rivalry. --Goodreads

First Line: "The very first thing Margaret said when she sat down next to me on the bus Monday morning was that I looked terrible."

One Great Passage: "What's on the agenda?" I asked. Agenda is Latin for "list of stuff to talk about," so when you say it, you're saving your mouth a lot of work. Plus, you sound smarter."

What others are saying:
About the Clementine Series “Humorous scenarios tumble together, blending picturesque dialogue with a fresh perspective as only the unique Clementine can offer. Frazee's engaging pen-and-ink drawings capture the energy and fresh-faced expressions of the irrepressible heroine. A delightful addition to any beginning chapter-book collection.” --School Library Journal, starred review

What I Thought: This latest in the Clementine series is as fun-packed as the previous three. One of the things I noticed and love about the series is how the author has made each one a stand alone. You can start anywhere and enjoy each one for it's own adventure. Clementine has been compared to a new "Ramona". I'd disagree. Clementine is definitely her very own lovable character with unique quirks (naming her siblings after vegetables) and personality. I found the storyline sweet and satisfying as Clementine navigates the addition of a new baby. Pennypacker's writing is crisp and tight.

About The Author: Sara Pennypacker
Agent: Steven Malk with Writers House
Publisher: Disney/ Hyperion

Who:  "Sara Pennypacker, author of the Clementine books, was a painter before becoming a writer and has two absolutely fabulous children who are grown now. She has written several books, including Stewart's Cape and Stewart Goes to School, both illustrated by Martin Matje, and Dumbstruck. When she was in school, she never had any problem at all paying attention. Okay, fine. That last part was about somebody else. Sara lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts." --Scholastic

When: "All through my childhood, my dream was to play baseball for a major league. Well, my dream was more specific than that - I wanted to play short stop for the Boston Red Sox. I wanted to be Rico Petrocelli. I actually haven't given up that dream. You never know.
     But as a grown-up, I got to work with the two other things that I loved - books and art. First, I became a watercolor painter and had a gallery. Then, when I had my two children I fell in love with children's books and I decided that's what I wanted to do most of all. Since the 1990's, I've been making books for kids and I know it's what I will do for the rest of my life. Because I love it that much." --More here.

How:  "I start by making up a character. I make this character very real I imagine what she likes for breakfast, what he thinks is unfair in his world, how she fits in her family, what he loves to do most. Then, when I feel I know and care about this character, I ask him or her, What's wrong? And I try to imagine what he or she might answer.

"The reason for this is that books should always have characters we can care about who have problems. Conflict, danger, misunderstanding! Generally, I try to make the problems worse as the book goes on - this tension is what makes readers turn pages.

"I want every sentence to be as clear as it can be, as interesting, as well-written, and as moving. I revise a lot - I rewrite everything at least twenty times! Each Clementine book, for instance, takes me close to a year to write. Which is okay, because I love writing and there's nothing I'd rather be doing." More here. 

Don't miss the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviewers. You can find them in my sidebar.


  1. I haven't read any of these?!!? What? How does that happen? Such great books, and so many of them, my kids and I need more hours in a day. Thank you for recommending this one. (It's super fun to get the ARCs, isn't it?) =)

  2. Oh, I loved the first two Clementine books, although I thought they were more for second and third grade.

    Great post, Pam. I love the info about the author and her tips for writing by starting with the character and imagining everything about them first.

  3. I love that cover. It reminds me of the 80s, and my childhood.


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