THE TALENTED CLEMENTINE

What to do when all the third- and fourth-graders are putting on a talent show but you don’t have a talent? That’s Clementine’s dilemma, and her mechanisms for escaping the talent show escalate into hilarity. Pennypacker once again demonstrates her keen insights into the third-grade mind with Clementine’s priceless observations of the world around her: “At journal writing I did my idea. When I was done writing, I curled my hand over my sentence as if it were too private to share. Which is how you get a teacher to come and look at it.” Clementine’s quest for a talent includes gluing beer-bottle caps to the bottoms of her sneakers; juggling her mother’s pocketbook, half-full coffee cup and her kitten, Moisturizer; and leashing her little brother as a prop. Even as Clementine’s antics escalate, the narrative avoids the pitfall of deteriorating into slapstick with the constant reminders of her essential humanity. Every kid will understand her desperate desire not to look like a fool in front of her classmates, and they will find her very talented solution—achieved with a little help from her principal—enormously satisfying. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7868-3870-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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THE RECESS QUEEN

Positing that bullies only act that way because they’re lonely, O’Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers (“she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em, / lollapaloosh ’em, / hammer ’em, slammer ’em, / kitz and kajammer ’em . . .”), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, “How DID you get to be so bossy?” and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith’s (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text’s informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue’s engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-20637-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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Here’s hoping this series kick-off leads to many more stories about best friends Dyamonde and Free.

MAKE WAY FOR DYAMONDE DANIEL

Third grader Dyamonde Daniel, transplanted from Brooklyn to Washington Heights because of her parents’ divorce, is looking for a best friend.

She is smart in school, especially when it comes to numbers, and sometimes her bravado makes her seem cocky. Deep down, Dyamonde is like most other kids: She wants a friend and she wants to belong. But as her new friend Free, also newly relocated because of family issues, says, “Wow! You’re amazing….You really don’t care what people think.” He hides his fondness for reading from the other children and is grouchy and belligerent to the little kids until Dyamonde calls him on his attitude, cementing their friendship. City youngsters will welcome a story set in their world—the world of small businesses, nosy old folks, small apartments and people from many cultures, and new readers will welcome the familiar situations, large font and ample white space. Gregory’s familiar black-and-white sketches add a hip, urban feel to the tale.

Here’s hoping this series kick-off leads to many more stories about best friends Dyamonde and Free. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25175-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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