This was one of Lauren Child's first children's book, published just over ten years ago. I wonder if, at that time, she had any inkling of how crazy popular Clarice Bean would become? I also can't help wondering if Charlie and Lola were already knocking around in that brain of hers.
The inside cover of this edition tells how Lauren submitted this book to many publishers who wanted her to make a lot of changes to her vision. She got many rejection letters and had to wait five years before she got one with the magical word .... yes! Thank goodness Lauren stood firm so that we can all enjoy Clarice in the style in which she was originally intended.
Since this is the first book, Clarice starts off by introducing herself and each of her family members. She then gives us a hilarious tour of her house. I just adore her running commentary - her flat way of stating the facts gets me every time. She says things like "If I had thought about it I would have put tapioca down his shorts." Surely, we've all thought that a time or two, right? She has a biting sense of humor and terrific imagination.
Of course, saying Clarice has those attributes really means it's Lauren's personality coming through. This is also evident in the book's visual style - her wonderful mash-up of fonts, color and pattern. You never know what the turn of each will bring - some collages here, wavy lines there, a giant bowl of soup, Grandad's pitiful plaid chair and the neighborhood cat. The real magic is that the finished product never comes across as random or busy, but well thought out and completely charming.
I would hope that most parents are familiar with Lauren's Child's work at this point. If not, get thee to a bookstore or library and check her out! Thanks to the great popularity of the series, they are now being offered in a lovely oversized paperback for the very first time! They sport dynamic new covers, feature flaps, die-cuts and more. Thanks, Candlewick, for making them even more affordable to the masses - only $7.99 each!
Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.