Utterly Me, Clarice Bean
is Lauren Child
's rather marvellous follow up to the super-savvy picture books that first launched the unforgettable Clarice into Smarties Prize and Kate Greenaway Medal winning orbit. This time, Child has moved away from her usual format and strikes gold in a novel for younger folk.
Clarice's extraordinarily ordinary family are under pressure. Dad keeps muttering about how "there might be a reshuffle going on at work" and how he will "have to jump through hoops" if he wants to get a "share of the pie" because "the big cheese" has been making noises about "some people being left out in the cold if they dont keep their eye on the ball", while mum spends her life "gribbling about pants on the floor and shoes on the sofa". And as for her brother, Minal Cricket, he "tends to be utterly a nuisance".
Meanwhile, Mrs Wilburton, the school teacher who insists that Clarice sets a book project "which sounds utterly dreary", until, that is, Miss Bean realises there is a prize. Together with best friend Betty Moody, Clarice sets about bagging the booty with the aid of The Ruby Redford Collection, a series of books about an 11-year-old detective.
As the games commence, Clarice tells her story through her diary, navigating childhood minefields and inviting readers to join her in her wide-eyed wonder at the madness of it all. Children will enjoy the easy-flowing, slightly breathless style and the familiarity of day-to-day dramas, and will undoubtedly agree with many of Clarice's observations on the utter unfairness of childhood in general.
Black and white drawings and random meanderings into alternative type faces that perfectly ape the bored scribblings of many a child add a visual dimension that will appeal even to less able or reluctant readers as well as to those who enjoy a good read. And let us not forget that Utterly Me, Clarice Bean is just about perfect for reading aloud--in fact, this option is highly recommended as depriving the grown-ups of this laugh-out-loud experience would be utterly, utterly unfair. Ages six and over. --Susan Harrison
--This text refers to the
"Hilarious and irresistible." Financial Times "An utterly fantastic book." Sunday Times"