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Clementine and the Family Meeting

Review

Clementine and the Family Meeting

written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

When Clementine's parents call a family meeting, the third grader is pretty sure the agenda won't be good. In fact, she’s fairly certain she’s in trouble for something. But she never would've guessed that they had such big news: her mom is pregnant!

Sara Pennypacker's latest, CLEMENTINE AND THE FAMILY MEETING, is just as funny, insightful and charming as the four previous Clementine books. This time out, Clementine is dealing with disappointment and changes not only from her parents’ revelation, but also at school and with her friend Margaret. Margaret is Clementine's older and sometimes wiser friend. Lately, she has been driving Clementine crazy with talk of moving to California to be a make-up artist. The make-up is bad enough, but Clementine gets sad thinking about the loss of her friend. Even though she is confident Margaret won't really move, as Clementine watches her mature, she feels like she is losing her just a bit anyway. Yet her evolving friendship with Margaret is just one of the things Clementine is dealing with.

At school, the rat that she was supposed to train for a science experiment, Eighteen, has escaped. She is worried about it, but is also anxious about her science partner's claim that he has superhero powers and that they should be the focus of their work now that the rat is gone. And, to top it all off, Clementine's very favorite hat, knitted by her grandmother, is missing. While she is focused on Eighteen, the hat and Margaret, the idea of the baby is never off her mind. Why should they go from a family of four to a family of five when they are so great as a family of four? How will they all fit in the apartment? Will the baby have a fruit name like she does, or will she have to give it a vegetable nickname like her brother? Clementine is not convinced that a baby is a good idea at all.

But, as her other problems resolve, Clementine comes to terms with the baby. No matter how she changes, Margaret is still her friend. Her hat and Eighteen (and five little surprises) are found together at school. She is reminded of how great being a big sister can be. A brand-new, grown-up tool belt full of brand-new, grown-up tools, makes her feel much better. And a very special building project may be just what she needs to get over the emotional shock she felt at the family meeting.

CLEMENTINE AND THE FAMILY MEETING is a lovely chapter book. The writing is sincere and entertaining, and the the emotional register spot-on. Clementine is at once a plucky and funky storybook heroine and a relatable every-girl. Once again, Pennypacker's story is perfectly punctuated by Marla Frazee's great pen and ink drawings. This is a very welcome addition to the series, but works well as a stand-alone book exploring the joys and pains of transitions and the adventure of growing up.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on September 13, 2011

Clementine and the Family Meeting
written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

  • Publication Date: June 19, 2012
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 1423124367
  • ISBN-13: 9781423124368