Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book two hundred and thirty-five

There aren't many picture book characters who can make me laugh out loud, but Clarice Bean and her colorful family and friends can. In today's picture book, Clarice and her siblings find themselves getting into one pickle after another, and their story is sure to bring a smile to even the glummest of faces.

Lauren Child
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Candlewick Press, 2000, 0-7636-1373-8
   One morning, at five-fifteen, the phone rings in Clarice Bean’s house. A nurse in a hospital in New York City explains that Clarice’s Uncle Eric has slipped on a doughnut and he is injured. Clarice’s mother is going to have to go to the hospital “on the double.” Dad is going away on “Important Business” so someone is going to have to babysit Clarice and her siblings.  Mom tries to find someone to babysit, but everyone is busy. There is only one person left to ask: Uncle Ted.
   Mom is not keen on having her younger brother watch the children, but she has run out of options. She gives Uncle Ted strict instructions on what he should and should not do, and for two days all goes well. Then Clarice’s little brother lets Albert the class guinea pig out of his hutch and the peace and harmony in the Bean house evaporates.
   There is something delightfully reassuring about stories that feature Clarice Bean and her family. The Beans and their relatives have what are (really) quite everyday sort of adventures. Anyone could lose a pet, get their head stuck in a fence, or lose their grandpa, but not everyone manages to do so in such a deliciously odd and peculiar way. Clarice’s first person narrative is laugh-out-loud funny, and Lauren Child’s multimedia illustrations perfectly capture the nuttiness of this loveable family. 

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