Clementine's Letter

By Sara Pennypacker; Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
(Disney-Hyperion, Hardcover, 9780786838844, 160pp.)

Publication Date: April 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Clementine can't believe her ears her beloved teacher, Mr. D'Matz, might be leaving them for the rest of the year to go on a research trip to Egypt! No other teacher has ever understood her impulsiveness, her itch to draw constantly, or her need to play "Beat the Clock" when the day feels too long. And in his place, he's left a substitute with a whole new set of rules that Clementine just can't figure out. The only solution, she decides, is to hatch a plan to get Mr. D'Matz back. If it means ruining her teacher's once-in-a-lifetime chance -- well, it's worth it. Isn't it?

About the Author

Sara Pennypacker is also the author of Clementine and The Talented Clementine. She has written several other books, including Stuart's Cape and Stuart Goes to School, both illustrated by Martin Matje; and Dumbstruck. She was a painter before becoming a writer, and has two absolutely fabulous children who are grown now. Sara lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Marla Frazee illustrated the first two books in the Clementine series. She is the author and illustrator of many picture books as well, including Walk On!, Santa Claus the World's Number One Toy Expert, and Roller Coaster, and she illustrated The Seven Silly Eaters and Everywhere Babies. She works in a small backyard cabin under an avocado tree in Pasadena, California.

Praise For Clementine's Letter

Clementine's only just "getting the hang of third grade"-she hasn't been sent to Principal Rice's office for a whole week-when her world turns upside-down: Her beloved Teacher is a finalist for an Adventures for Teachers award, and if he wins, he'll be gone for the rest of the year. As it is, he's absent for a week to prepare, and life with his substitute does not go well. Mrs. Nagel doesn't know any of the tricks Teacher did that helped to keep Clementine "in sync" with the classroom, so when Principal Rice asks the children to write letters of nomination to the award committee, Clementine sees her opportunity to sabotage his success. Pennypacker and Frazee have this latter-day Ramona down to a T, her distinctive voice and unruly curls happily unblunted by familiarity. The great success of this outing, however, lies in the warmth of the relationship between Clementine and Teacher, whose humane and sympathetic understanding of his admittedly difficult scholar will strike a welcome chord with readers, especially those out-of-sync students and their teachers—Kirkus

Just as the bouncy Clementine is finally getting the hang of third grade, with the help of her very understanding teacher, she learns that he is a finalist in a contest to study in his beloved Egypt. While he is away for a preliminary week, Clementine immediately gets into difficulties with the substitute. "I can't guess Mrs. Nagel's rules...She doesn't tell them until it's too late and I'm already in trouble." Clementine tries to sabotage her teacher's trip by writing a negative letter to the award committee, but she redeems herself at the end. Subplots involve Clementine's selling-off of her neighbors' charity donations and a notebook she and her building-superintendent dad use to write a story together. This may be the best entry so far in the series, as Pennypacker develops her ingenious but impulsive character with less reliance on cutesy phrases in Clementine's narration. And Frazee's line drawings go a little further this time in showing Clementine's highly charged emotions and her capacity for creating chaos in her surroundings.—Horn Book

Irrepressible and delightful Clementine is back. She is enjoying third grade she is in sync with her teacher, Mr. D'Matz, and is rarely sent to speak with Principal Rice, a major accomplishment in her school life. Then Mr. D'Matz is selected as one of three finalists for an Adventures for Teachers archaeological dig in Egypt and leaves for a week to meet with the committee. Clementine is distraught to learn that if chosen as the winner, he will be gone for the rest of the school year. When the substitute arrives, Clementine learns that she has to follow completely different rules. The next week is not an easy one for the child as she adjusts to Mrs. Nagel, worries about losing Mr. D'Matz, copes with her everyday life as an impulsive eight-year-old, and frets about the letter she is supposed to write to the prize committee about her teacher. Through it all, she shines with a vibrant spirit that can never be completely extinguished, even when she is feeling down. Frazee's pen-and-ink drawings perfectly capture Clementine's personality and her world.—SLJ

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