Monday, April 15, 2019

Utterly Me, Clarice Bean - Lauren Child

Summary: It's not easy to concentrate at school when mysterious things are happening all around you. In fact, Clarice Bean is starting to feel just like her favorite heroine: Ruby Redfort, schoolgirl detective.

Clarice and her utterly best friend, Betty Moody, are planning to ace their book project about Ruby and win the class prize, until Betty disappears into thin air, and horrible teacher Mrs. Wilberton teams Clarice up with the naughtiest boy in school. Will her new partner ruin everything? Will Betty ever come back? And what on earth happened to the silver trophy everyone's hoping to win?

Lauren Child brings her trademark wacky wit and eccentric visual energy to a full-length, fastpaced Clarice Bean episode that will charm even the most capricious reader. (image and summary from

My Review: I first discovered Lauren Child through the delightful children's show Charlie and Lola which is based on her picture books of the same name.  Child has an uncanny ability to write children so utterly well, particularly with dialogue.  The way her characters speak just feel like a child and how they observe the world.

Which is why I love Utterly Me, Clarice Bean so very much--the voice.  I love a unique first person voice, and love when they are so strong that person just becomes real.  Right away we're pulled straight into Clarice's life: "This is me, Clarice Bean.  I am not an only child, but I wish I was."

And from then on, we are taken along Clarice Bean's daily life, which is simple enough, except that the way this story is told you just don't want to put the book down.  Clarice and her best friend love these books called Ruby Redfort (I think a take on Nancy Drew), and they decide to become detectives and use the Ruby books to help guide them in how a detective should behave, which I also love because I love when children love books.  The characters in this book are also great, Clarice, her friend Betty, the naughty boy Karl, and Clarice's funny grandpa who is harboring several dogs in their house

Another fun thing about this book--the typeset.  Clarice has a vivid imagination, and often the words on the page will swoop and swirl, which only adds to the fun narrative.

And then we have Child's cute illustrations, her characters with big eyes, and the feel of someone playing cut and paste with magazine pictures, which works so well for her style of writing.

I have actually lost track of how many times I've read this book, it's one of those books that I love to pick up every couple of months and read again because the voice is just so charming.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Nothing offensive.

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