Clarice Bean scram! by Lauren Child

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It's summer, it's hot and Clarice Bean has NOTHING to do. Even Robert Grainger has a borrowed rabbit to care for. And why does she keep seeing this dog everywhere? Is it meant to be?

Subtitled The story of how we got our dog, this is an addition to the Clarice Bean series that can sit anywhere within the order. It tells the story of how the family dog Cement, who appears in many of the other books, joined their household. Interestingly, Lauren Child meant to name the dog Clement but missed the 'l' in typing. A similar fate befalls the dog within the story. Written and released at various intervals since 1999 the series is just as appealing and accessible to young children today. Child's signature voice shines through as Clarice Bean shares her chaotic but loving family life with us. Her life is full of the independence and sneaky schemes of childhood: she chats to her neighbour across the fence, she walks to the corner shop by herself and she secretly smuggles a dog into the house. Sibling relationships are depicted as messy but ultimately loving. There are arguments, there are indiscretions, there is anger but it is always amusing rather than serious, and towards the end the four children work together to keep the dog a secret from Grandpa. This is all wrapped up within a humorous narrative with superb characterisation. Getting that child voice to sound authentic and writing witty dialogue that is a joy to read and listen to is what Child does so brilliantly. The flow is also fantastic, events organically follow on from one another and there is a great sense of suspense and anticipation even though nothing outlandish really happens. This, along with her usual font variation, means that although it is a rather long text it is easy to get through. Fans of Lauren Child and particularly of Clarice Bean, young and old, will be delighted with this new story. 

Themes: Pets, Family.

Nicole Nelson