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Literature / Clémentine

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Clementinenote  is a series of books written by Sara Pennypacker, with illustrations by Marla Frazee. The titles focus around the day-to-day adventures of Clementine, a young girl in the third grade who sometimes gets into trouble, but is very empathetic and has a lot of great ideas. Throughout the series, Clementine deals with issues such as having a slightly bossy and germ-phobic best friend, struggling with rules at school, losing a pet kitten, a new baby in the family and being named after a fruit.

The series began in 2006 and ended in 2015. However, the author and illustrator released a spin-off series, Waylon, beginning with Waylon! One Awesome Thing on April 5, 2016. The series focuses on the fourth-grade adventures of Clementine's classmate and friend, Waylon, who is very much into science and who is convinced he has superpowers.

    Titles in this series: 
  • Clementine (2006)
  • The Talented Clementine (2007)
  • Clementine's Letter (2008)
  • Clementine, Friend of the Week (2010)
  • Clementine and the Family Meeting (2011)
  • Clementine and the Spring Trip (2013)
  • Completely Clementine (2015)

The Clementine series features examples of:

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Especially in the earlier books, Clementine has to be reminded often to pay attention in school, and has trouble sitting still. As she explains...
    "Clementine, you need to pay attention!" the art teacher said one more time. And just like the other times, I was paying attention. I was paying attention to Margaret's empty seat.
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: The later books in the series, beginning with Clementine and the Family Meeting, feature Clementine dealing with the fact that her family is soon to be this. In Clementine and the Family Meeting, she and her little brother first found out about it at the titular meeting. At first, Clementine is not at all happy about it because she feels their family is perfect as it is, and also doesn't see how the addition of a baby to the family is going to solve any of her problems. She begins, however, to warm up to the idea, due to a number of factors, such as learning from her grandparents that she was a very responsible and protective big sister to her little brother when he was born.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Two of the titles in the series follow this format, Clementine and the Family Meeting and Clementine and the Spring Trip.
  • Character Title: The first book in the series is named Clementine. The remainder all have Clementine's name somewhere in the title.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Clementine's friend Waylon believes that he has superpowers. Also, before eating anything, he conducts a pretend battle between his food items. A lot of this is toned down in the Sequel Series starring him.
  • Gag Haircut: A lot of the plot of the original Clementine title rotates around this. When Clementine's friend Margaret gets glue on her hair, she has Clementine give her a haircut, using plastic art scissors, only for most of it to end up getting cut off. Clementine then colors it with marker, but this only makes things worse. Later, she ends up cutting off most of her own hair in sympathy for Margaret.
  • Good Parents: Clementine's parents are portrayed fairly strongly as this. They are willing to help Clementine with her problems, though without being intrusive. They make time for family things and they can be funny. They're not perfect by any means, but they very much come across as warm and loving.
  • Half-Identical Twins: The illustrations of Lilly and Willy have them looking identical albeit for Lilly's pigtails.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Clementine insistently states in her narration for the books that even though he's trying, Margaret's big brother Mitchell is N-O-T not her boyfriend, though if she ever had one, it would be him.
  • Jaw Drop:
    • In Completely Clementine, Margaret tells Clementine that she got her mother to let her go shopping for new shoes for her upcoming wedding with her boyfriend. Clementine doesn't think much of this, in fact, she considers shopping for shoes to be punishment. Then Margaret tells her that they're going to be high heels and her jaw drops.
      It took all my power to crank it back up to my chin by the time we pulled in to school.
    • In the same book, Clementine's mother's mouth is described as forming an "O" after Clementine and Clementine's father present her with "The Pentagon," a secret project that they've been working on, a five-sided table.
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: In Completely Clementine, Clementine names her new baby sibling after the baby has already been brought home from the hospital.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Clementine is annoyed that her parents gave her a "fruit name," but gave her little brother a normal name. As such, she decides to only call her little brother by vegetable names, i.e. Celery, Pea Pod, Rutabaga, Spinach, etc. While at first she does it because she's upset, it seems to have become basically just a habit, something that she always does, as she actually likes her little brother fairly well. She's so dedicated to it that in one of the books she even goes to a Chinese market to find new vegetable names to use.
  • Malaproper: Clementine sometimes uses words like "astoundished" or "bore-dumb," or says things like that her friend Margaret "went all historical" on her.
  • Never Say "Die": In Clementine, Friend of the Week, when Clementine loses her pet kitten, Moisturizer, she blames herself, but her father tells her that she's not to blame, that he got out because he was curious; kittens are curious. At that, Clementine is reminded of "a certain terrible saying regarding curiosity and cats," which she says that she is not going to repeat in her narration. However, she sees her father seeing her remember it and tells her that "But satisfaction brought him back" is the end of the saying. She replies simply that she hopes so.
  • Noodle Incident: In Clementine and the Family Meeting, Clementine's paternal grandmother twice begins to relate to Clementine and her mother, via speakerphone, a tale involving Clementine's father, his little brother (Clementine's Uncle Frank), and an incident with a garden hose. Both times, however, before she can get properly underway, Clementine's father runs over, grabs the phone, cuts off the speakerphone, and then makes an excuse about it getting late and hangs up.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Throughout the series, Clementine never once uses her little brother's real name, instead calling him only by vegetable names. She is careful never to relate a scene in which his real name is used. Series author, Sara Pennypacker, when asked for the real name by fans, has rigidly insisted that only she and her two children will ever know the character's real name.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: In the first book, Clementine, Clementine overhears a portion of a number of things that leads her to believe that her parents are planning to get rid of her.
  • Running Gag: In Clementine and the Family Meeting, Clementine wishes to wear her father's new tool belt, but he insists that it's too valuable, variously because that it's an heirloom from the Ming Dynasty, that the president gave it to him at the White House for lifelong service to the country, etc., even though Clementine was there when he bought it at Hardware Depot. Later, after she keeps bugging him about it, he asks why she's so focused on the tool belt and she admits that she wants to build something. He takes her to Hardware Depot to buy her own tool belt, but her mother freaks when she sees her wearing the hefty tool belt. She then tries to borrow her father's excuse of it being an heirloom from the Ming Dynasty, but it doesn't cut any ice.
  • Silent Treatment: In Completely Clementine, Clementine gives her father this without even realizing it's a thing for not joining her in becoming a vegetarian. She tells her friend Margaret that she hasn't talked to him for one day, thirteen hours and twenty-one minutes.
    Margaret: Oh yeah. The silent treatment.
    Clementine: The silent treatment. It's a treatment?
    Margaret: Very effective. Hold out for a lot.
  • Slice of Life: The series is the day-to-day adventures of a third-grade girl named Clementine who deals with issues such as a spat with her best friend, getting sent to the principal's office, losing her kitten and worrying about bossy fourth graders during a school field trip.
  • Surprise Party: There's one at the end of Clementine. Clementine feared that it was a going-away party for her because she thought her parents were getting rid of her. In fact, the party is actually a celebration arranged by her parents for her having helped her father to win "the great pigeon war." It's also a welcome party for the new kitten her parents have bought her and are surprising her with following the passing of her previous cat, Polka Dottie.
  • Talent Contest: The Talented Clementine focuses on Clementine being convinced that she can't enter school's talent show because she has no talent that would fit such a show. She and her friend Margaret try desperately to find her a talent throughout the book. In the end, Clementine ends up serving as director of the show along with the school's principal when the teacher who's supposed to be doing it has to leave due to an emergency. It turns out that Clementine is very talented when it comes to knowing what's needed for the various acts and how to keep the show moving along smoothly.
  • Terrified of Germs: Clementine's best friend, Margaret, is terrified of germs to the point that uses hand-sanitizer wipes to wipe off her packets of hand-sanitizer before opening them. She also does things like cleaning off statues in public parks, even when she hasn't been given permission to do so. This behavior sometimes drives Clementine nuts, but she's also learned how to use it to her advantage sometimes.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Willy and Lilly. Lilly even has an untraditional spelling with three 'l's to keep them consistent.
  • This Is Reality: In Clementine, Friend of the Week, after Clementine loses her kitten, Moisturizer, she tells her mother that it reminds her of what her little brother says, "You broke my feelings," that her "feelings are broken." Her mother tells her that she'll feel better eventually and reminds her of when she read the book Ginger Pye, how the kids felt when their dog was missing, but after looking for a really long time, they got him back. Clementine tells her "Mom. That was a book. This is real life."
  • The Unfavorite: The main plot of the first book, Clementine, involves Clementine being worried that she might be this after her friend Margaret tells her that in families with two children, there's the "easy one" and the "hard one." She's worried that she's the "hard one" and her parents want to get rid of her because of it.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Thanks to her good imagination, Clementine sort of realizes this. In every family meeting, she asks her parents for a gorilla. In Clementine and the Family Meeting, she gets excited when she thinks that they actually are buying her one. However, after she finds out that they aren't, she admits in her narration that she's actually somewhat relieved because ever since she got a pet cat, she's realized just how much trouble it would be to clean out the giant litterbox of a gorilla.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: In Clementine and the Family Meeting, Clementine and her whole science class are doing projects with rats. She is partnered with Waylon and they have a rat named 18 whom they've been feeding snacks as a test to whether it will help him learn better. He grows bigger and bigger and they think it's the snacks causing it. Later, he goes missing and when they find him, they find that "he" has had babies and is actually a mother rat.