Sometimes, it's hard for Clementine to like her best friend Margaret. Clementine is in third grade, and she hates when Margaret uses her I'm-in-fourth-grade voice. Clementine isn't allowed to touch any of Margaret's stuff. Most annoying, Margaret is never told to pay attention. Clementine is paying attention, though . . . just not to her classwork.

When Margaret gets glue in her hair during art class, Clementine helps by trimming off the rest of Margaret's hair. Borrowing her mother's markers, Clementine then creates on Margaret's nearly bald head a few locks as flaming red as her own. Clementine's creativity is rewarded with yet another trip to the principal's office. Margaret tells Clementine that she must be the hard one, because every family has a hard and an easy child. Clementine later overhears her parents planning a good-bye party, and she fears that they have finally decided to get rid of their hard one and keep only her little brother, the easy child. Clementine decides she has to fix things and fast! Can Clementine learn to harness her creativity to help her family? Sara Pennypacker has a gift for using observational humor and her heroine is smart, sassy and hilarious. Readers will laugh as Clementine tries to change the subject in the principal's office and discusses how all the most exquisite names can be found on labels in the bathroom.

Marla Frazee's delightful black-and-white drawings capture the whimsical nature of Clementine and the ever-so-slightly stuffy Margaret. Children will love the expressive faces on Frazee's characters, especially the look they teach in Principal School (which Clementine feels is not very nice. ) o Any child told to pay attention is sure to fall in love with Clementine, a humorous and heartwarming tale of acceptance, friendship and unconditional love.

Tracy Marchini works at a literary agency in Manhattan.

comments powered by Disqus