Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clementine, Friend of the Week, by Sara Pennypacker

Title:  Clementine, Friend of the Week
Author:  Sara Pennypacker
Publisher:  Hyperion
Year:  2010
Pages:  176
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Themes:  Friendship
Age Range:  2nd-4th Grade

Summary: (from Goodreads)
Clementine has been picked for Friend of the Week, which means she gets to be line leader, collect the milk money, and feed the fish. Even better, she'll get a Friend of the Week booklet in which all the other third grade kids will write why they like her. Clementine's best friend Margaret has all sorts of crazy ideas for how Clementine can prove to the class she is a friend. Clementine "has" to get a great booklet, so she does what Margaret says. What begins as one of the best weeks ever may turn out to be the worst. Who knew that being a friend could be so hard?
Clementine, Friend of the Week is a throw back to some of the books I remember from my own childhood.  Both in writing style and in story it brings to mind Ramona and Harriet and any of Judy Blume's characters.  Clementine is a character that is easily relateable for other little girls, and her struggles, which seem so small from a grown-up perspective, are the types of problems that little girls have when it comes to making and keeping friends.

While most of the story is a sweet and rather funny look at how Clementine plans to bribe and cajole her classmates into giving her good comments in her Friend of the Week booklet, it gains some emotional momentum when her kitten, Moisturizer, gets lost.  He is fine in the end, and his disappearance provides the impetus for making up with her best friend Margaret, but while it was happening I felt her pain and fear.  Pennypacker did a great job making the crisis feel exactly like what it was; a heart-wrenching experience for a loving little girl who is miserable with worry.  This would make a good discussion point, either for discussing character feelings, or for discussing how a character changes at different points in a story.

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