Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clarice Bean (series) by Lauren Child

Here I am, still trying to figure out which Clarice Bean books are picture books and which are chapter books...I finally just requested every title in our library system with "Clarice Bean" in the title. I discovered that My Uncle is a Hunkle says Clarice Bean is the original British version of Clarice Bean, Guess Who's Babysitting? (Previously reviewed here)While I normally prefer the original versions of books, for reading aloud the American version is better, since there are various expressions and some culture that will be confusing to small children.

I next discovered the first Clarice Bean picture book, Clarice Bean That's Me, wherein we meet the various characters, all packed into their noisy house. Anyone who's ever lived in a small house with a large family will sympathize with Clarice's desire for some peace and quiet of her own, although parents probably won't be quite as happy with her method of getting it.

The final story I found, What Planet are you from Clarice Bean? finally finds something Clarice's older brother, Kurt, is willing to come out of his room for. It's a rather disorganized mixture of science and environmentalism, wound around saving a neighborhood tree. We never find out why they're cutting it down - is it diseased? In the way of construction? and we never discover if their protest is successful or not.

Clarice Bean is an intriguing child with a unique view of the world and a very individual communication style. Lauren Child's collage illustrations incorporate the text as part of the illustrations and her distinctive style brings each character alive for the reader. These stories aren't the best for read-alouds, because of the design of the text, unless you're prepared to memorize the story or read upside-down and sideways.

The first story and the babysitting ones are, I think, the best. What Planet seems very disconnected and there's no real resolution to the plot. Possibly it's hidden on the endpapers, but I don't think so.

Verdict: These are great books for older kids to enjoy reading by themselves or with help.

Clarice Bean, that's me
ISBN: 0763609617; Published August 1999 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library

What planet are you from Clarice Bean
ISBN: 978-0763647964; Published February 2010 by Candlewick (reprint); Borrowed from the library

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