Monday, September 13, 2010

Friend or Foe: Clementine: Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker

I couldn't wait for Margaret to get on the bus Monday afternoon.

"It was the best day!" I tell her. "I got picked for Friend of the Week." I get to tell my autobiography, be line leader, collect milk money, feed the fish..."

"Oh, yeah, Clementine," Margaret interrupted, flapping her hands at me. "We had that when I was in third grade."

Margaret is only one year older than I am, but whenever she says, "When I was in third grade..." she makes it sound like "way back when I was a little kid, which I'm not anymore, so that makes me the boss."

Clementine's big day starts to go downhill right then, and sinks even lower when she and Margaret have a big fight and Margaret says she's not her friend anymore. Not lapsing into the blues, Clementine forges on with her plans to win friends and influence her classmates to write glowing comments about her in her "Friend of the Week Booklet" at the end of her week of duty. After a few ideas flop, Clementine hits on the brilliant idea of impressing the kids by using her father's collection of holiday decorations to deck out her classmates' bikes for the Bike Rally on Saturday.

I am going to bring home a wonderful Friend of the Week booklet, so great it would make my parents' faces crack open with the smiling pride, she promises herself.

But then near tragedy strikes--her kitten Moisturizer disappears, and Clementine is certain that she has slipped out into the wilds of greater Boston and is lost forever. After many tears, Clementine agrees to design lost kitty posters, and her dad even pays for 250 copies to put up all around the neighborhood. But by Saturday morning Clementine is so devastated that her kitty remains lost that she can't bring herself to go to the Bike Rally. Not only has she lost her best friend and her kitty, but she realizes that she has let down her whole class who were depending on her to be there with the decorations for their bikes.

In a surprise ending that brings Moisturizer home after an adventurous trip to Quincy in their plumber's tool bag, Clementine learns that Joe the plumber guessed whose kitty he'd brought home when he say the photo in the Boston Globe of Clementine's whole class with their award-winning bikes, each decorated with posters of the missing Moisturizer, placed there by none other than--Margaret.

On Monday Clementine gets her Friend of the Week booklet with lots of nice comments from her class:

"Once when I was in first grade I lost my crayons," Joe wrote. "Clementine broke every one of hers in half so I could color."

And Clementine and Margaret celebrate their newly restored "Friendship of the Week."

Sara Pennypacker's newest, Clementine, Friend of the Week (Disney/Hyperion, 2010), illustrated in black-line drawings by Marla Frazee, earned the coveted starred review from School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly reviewers for this latest in her justly popular Clementine books, just right for the first weeks of school for those newly independent beginning chapter readers.

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