Friday, May 4, 2012
Utterly Me, Clarice Bean
January 29th, 2012
Genre: Realistic, Humor
Description: Clarice Bean stars in her first novel length book. In it, for a school project, Clarice must decide on a book project that shows something she learned from it. Her teacher isn’t too impressed when she picks the popular Ruby Redfort books which her teacher considers “trash.” When Betty Moody, her best friend, disappears Clarice is forced to partner up with the class clown, Karl, to finish her project. When the trophy for the book project disappears and the teacher blames Karl for it, Clarice finally discovers what she’s learned from her favorite fictional character—how to be an ace detective—and sets out to prove Karl’s innocence.
Opinion: Clarice Bean is a great series for readers, especially those who grew up with her when she previously stared in her own series of picture books. (Older readers can also look forward to reading more about Ruby Redfort in her first middle grade/YA title which was released in late March). So this is a perfect progression for fans to follow—picture book, chapter book, older novel. Clarice Bean has a fun, whimsical way of speaking and the books are accompanied by a lot of white space and fun doodles. Lauren Child incorporates her classic illustration style here too when some pictures of simple pencil illustrations while others incorporate real things into the drawings. To help a new reader get used to a book with a longer format and more chapters, the long blocks of words tend to get broken up like lines of poetry and sometimes literally follow the moods of Clarice (for example when she says “down” and the words are printed one on top of the other so the word actually points down). This makes the test easier to take in and also adds a fun nature to the story that matches Clarice’s personality. The vocabulary is also more challenging but in a good way, especially in Spells Trouble when new words are introduced with their definitions as Clarice tries to learn how to spell them. Clarice’s favorite word of “utterly” is used a lot in both novels. My only complaint thus far with the series is that in Utterly Me the chapters are split up so when a new chapter begins it begins on a new page. This made the first book seem much longer than it actually was since the chapter breaks got lost among the text. This appeared to be fixed in the rest of the books in the series. Another minor complaint was that sometimes the actions of a character speaking for more than one paragraph didn’t follow correct grammar and punctuation rules. For example, when a character is speaking and it takes up more than one paragraph there is the original opening quote marks and there is opening quote marks for each subsequent paragraph but the only closing quote marks appear at the end of their speech. In this series most of the opening quote marks were left off of subsequent paragraphs so there was only one pair at the beginning of the speech and one at the end, which sometimes made it confusing in regards to who was talking and if the text was speech or narration. One of the best things, however, about the Clarice Bean books is Clarice’s personality. Child has Clarice’s voice down pat. While the sentence structure might seem odd sometimes it is odd in the way that a normal child trying to sound important or like an adult would actually probably speak (for example, sometimes throwing in more words than is needed, mixing up the order of words, etc.). An example would be: “Mrs. Wilburton says I have got utterly not a speck of concentration.” Lastly, the additional of actual “pieces” of the Ruby Redfort books to the plot also add to the story and help it move along. The font is large, the creative use of text, the cute illustrations, and the clever, very authentic child-like voice of Clarice Bean make this series super fun!