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Clementine's Letter

Review

Clementine's Letter

written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Clementine absolutely adores her teacher, but she and the rest of her third grade class gasp when the principal says his name aloud. After all, "D'Matz" almost sounds like a couple of bad words put together, which is why all of Mr. D'Matz's students refer to him simply as "Teacher."

But Clementine soon discovers that she has much more to be horrified about than just hearing his name. Principal Rice informs the class that Mr. D'Matz has been nominated for a huge prize. If he wins the Adventures for Teachers award, he'll go to Egypt for an archeological dig --- and that will mean he'll be gone from Clementine's classroom for the remainder of the year. Clementine is so horrified by this news that she almost misses the fact that Mr. D'Matz will not be in his classroom for the rest of the week because he must spend time with the Adventures for Teachers Committee.

Clementine hopes that Teacher will refuse the honor, but both he and her classmates seem to agree that this could be a fabulous opportunity. Only Clementine is aghast at the thought that Mr. D'Matz is letting the class down after he promised to share so many wonderful activities with them throughout the year. Although he explains that his replacement will have his lesson plans and will be capable of leading the class in Fraction Blasters, Weather-Across-the World and other projects, Clementine is not convinced.

Unfortunately, Clementine and Mrs. Nagel, the substitute teacher, have trouble communicating from the start, and the issues snowball as the long week crawls by. It puzzles Clementine that her friends don't agree with her pronouncement that Mrs. Nagel is mean, as incident follows incident, causing her to dread school.

One class assignment Clementine particularly has problems with is the letter that each student must write to the Adventures for Teachers judges, explaining why Mr. D'Matz should be chosen to go to Egypt. What a conundrum, when Clementine does not want him to win the prize. If she tells the truth --- that he is an amazing teacher --- then her words will help him win, leaving Clementine to deal with Mrs. Nagel for the entire year. When her friend, Mitchell, inspires her, she pens quite a letter to the judges. But her moment of reckoning is not all that far in the future --- and it's a doozy.

Clementine is a delightful character with true-to-life emotions and reactions. Sara Pennypacker handles Clementine's relationships with both Mr. D'Matz and Mrs. Nagel in an entertaining and realistic manner, building to a satisfying resolution. Furthermore, the expressive line drawings by Marla Frazee capture Clementine's spirit, adding an enjoyable dimension to a thoroughly gratifying tale.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 6, 2009

Clementine's Letter
written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

  • Publication Date: January 6, 2009
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 078683885X
  • ISBN-13: 9780786838851