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UTTERLY ME, CLARICE BEAN by Lauren Child

UTTERLY ME, CLARICE BEAN

By Lauren Child

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-2186-2
Publisher: Candlewick

The flibbertigibbet, middle-child star of three picture books jumps to a more extended format without losing her exuberance, short attention span, or stream-of-consciousness style of narration. So wrapped up is Clarice in gobbling down mysteries featuring a Nancy Drew-like sleuth, that she can’t think of any other books to use in a class project that’s supposed to highlight reading’s educational benefits. Then, not only does her partner and best friend Betty Moody disappear on a sudden family trip, leaving her saddled with class troublemaker Karl Wrenbury, but the trophy cup that was earmarked for the winning project disappears. Despite a lack of evidence, humorless teacher Mrs. Wilbarton blames Karl, thus leaving Clarice partnerless again. Meanwhile, there are mysteries on the domestic front. Using extra punctuation and changes in type and line shape for emphasis, Child not only gives Clarice a distinctive preteen voice, but captures the chaos around her with plenty of sketchy, interspersed ink drawings and collages. Not that it wins the trophy, but this middle-class Eloise turns out to be a good loser, and she will certainly win over plenty of readers. (Fiction. 9-11)