Clementine is a series by Sara Pennypacker, the author of the Stuart series  The first book in the series is titled the same, Clementine.


Clementine is the main character who is creative and funny, in the footsteps of great characters like Ramona Quimby.

The book begins with Clementine helping her friend Margaret, who has cut out a clump of hair that was glued together.  Clementine feels like she knows how to make it work with the clump, but ends off cutting off most of Margaret’s hair.

Clementine has a meeting with her Principal, who reminds Clementine to “pay attention.”  Clementine pays attention to details like what the lunch lady is doing and doesn’t understand how they think she isn’t paying attention.

All right, now, Clementine,” Principal Rice in her I’m-trying-to-be-patient-but-it’s-getting-harder voice. “Why did you cut off Margaret’s hair?”

I was helping,” I said. And then I told Principal Rice about how I’d helped her, too.  “I answered the phone while you were gone.  I ordered some new school pets, and I told the gym teacher we are never going to play dodgeball again, and I made two appointments for you.  The phone kept going dead, so I guess it’s busted.  But at least I helped you a little.”

Clementine knows that Margaret feels bad about her hair, so they both decide that painting her head with permanent markers will make her head look better.  Clementine steals her mother’s special and expensive pens to paint Margaret’s head a bright orange color.  Needless to say, Margaret’s mother forbids them from playing together for a few days.

In time, Clementine chops off all of her hair to make Margaret feel better.  And she lets Margaret color her head green with markers! Clementine has another meeting with Principal Rice and talks to her dad about hair and beards.

While Clementine’s mother is an artist, her father is the building maintenance and is at war with the pigeons.  He recruits Clementine to help him fight the Great Pigeon War.  She helps him come up with ideas of ways to get the pigeons to move from the front of the building.

While she is planning a maneuver to scare the pigeons with a picture of their cat, Polka, she overhears her mother’s conversation. They whisper “Shh” and Clementine assumes it is because she has been too much trouble and will be sent away.

One more thing to remember when I am old: if I ever do get married, which I will not, I will only have one kid.  The first one.  She is plenty good enough.  Even if she’s the hard one.

While she is bored one afternoon, Clementine solves the Great Pigeon mystery.  She realizes Mrs. Jacobi, their neighbor, is throwing cereal out the window that attracts pigeons.  Clementine convinces Mrs. Jacobi to throw the cereal out of another window that would bring the pigeons to the alley.  Her dad is thrilled and Clementine feels good that she helped and pleased her parents.

The book ends with a surprise party given by Clementine’s parents.  They get her a cake that says, “Thank you, Clementine – Hero of the Great Pigeon War!” Clementine is surprised and her parents get a kitten for the family.

Clementine is a very creative and active girl, which makes for a fun narrative.  Clementine is perpetually working hard to please adults and doesn’t understand when her actions get her in trouble.  She is terribly funny and Pennypacker does a nice job of revealing of the relationship between she and her parents.  I  found that I related to book characters who weren’t perfect, Clementine is a perfect example of that.  She also relates a world from a child’s point of  view.

Clementine is a great chapter book about a character who is clever and fun!

(Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine. Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, 2006).