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CLARICE BEAN, DON’T LOOK NOW by Lauren Child

CLARICE BEAN, DON’T LOOK NOW

By Lauren Child

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3536-7
Publisher: Candlewick

In a Wemberly Worried (2000) for middle-grade readers, Clarice Bean catalogs concerns both immediate and cosmic (“Worry No. 3. Change.”), while chronic lack of sleep, increasingly sharp arguments between her high-strung parents and the departure of best friend Betty Moody combine to drive her spiraling down into scowling gloom. Brusquely rejecting several overtures from classmates, she becomes a sour loner, compulsively scouring a cherished Guide For Spies by her literary heroine Ruby Redfort for advice while watching pretty new student Clem Hansson hook up (or so she thinks) with class sociopath Justin Broach. The domestic chaos that came off as funny in previous episodes just seems disturbing here. And though Child tries to lighten the load on her depressed protagonist by having her discover just how many friends she still has when Justin tries to bully her, and also to learn that she was wrong about Clem, her parents’ imminent breakup and other matters, the effort comes too late to lift the dismal overall tone. Clarice Bean has many fans, but this new outing isn’t as finely tuned as the others, and so is unlikely to earn her many new ones. (Fiction. 9-11)