Antic third-grader Clementine faces her biggest challenge yet: looming change.
It’s the last week of school before summer, and everyone is excited except for Clementine, who definitely does not feel ready for fourth grade. Whenever her beloved Mr. D’Matz tries to talk about it, Clementine avoids the subject. Fortunately, she’s got a few things to keep her occupied. Classmates Maria and Rasheed are planning their wedding, and Clementine is deeply involved, acting as proxy wedding planner since her bossy upstairs neighbor, Margaret, is an expert. Her mother is expecting a new baby, “nesting” in ever more comical fashion, and Clementine is working hard on a good name for the tyke. Perhaps hardest of all, vegetarian Clementine is subjecting her father to the silent treatment, since he will not give up meat. While it’s gratifying to see how much Clementine has grown—much as Clementine might herself suspect she hasn’t—this outing doesn’t pack the punch of previous books. The wedding subplot in particular feels superfluous, and both Clementine’s apprehension about change and her insistence on the moral high ground feel deserving of center stage. Still, her ebullience will likely carry readers past this to the valuable understanding that change will come and sometimes the best you can hope for is a compromise.
Though looser in weave than previous appearances, still this provides the emotional honesty readers have come to expect. (Fiction. 6-10)