Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Liberty and justice for all, including chickens"

I just put down Clementine and the Spring Trip, the sixth installment in Sara Pennypacker's series. I love the Clementine books enough, and find them similar enough to the writing I'm inclined to do, that I've kept reading beyond what's strictly necessary in order to recommend them. What I remember from book to book is that Clementine's hilarious, that she's creative, and that many readers may be able to relate to her difficulty in sitting still. But revisiting the series today reminded me of another thing about Clementine that gives her depth and makes her stand out from other funny chapter book heroines: her truly independent way of thinking constantly leads her to conclusions that show her empathetic heart.

Clementine wisely thinks of herself as having sections like the fruit that's her namesake, and even while she's having fun on a trip to Plimouth Plantation, some of those sections are thinking about what's right and what's wrong. If the Pilgrims left England because of rules they found unfair, should the third graders let the fourth graders make rules about noisy eating? And what of the chicken destined for the soup pot?

The decisions Clementine makes might not be the ones every kid makes, but I love (and I suspect kids love) the way she arrives at them on her own, often through very funny logic. That's what has me sighing spontaneously after every few pages, "I love Clementine."

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