Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clarice Bean What Planet Are You From?


I really like the Clarice Bean books that have been re-released by Candlewick this year. These must be some of the nicest paperbacks available, swathed in overly large covers that sport updated cover art. They are priced the same as a traditional softcover, but are bigger and smoother -  like paperbacks on steroids.  The very best part of these releases is the inside flap, where Lauren Child provides some personal history. For this book, she recounts watching television when she should have been working (so even famous artists fall prey) and stumbling upon a program about planets. That got her thinking about how her Clarice would approach the environment ... and voila, a book was born.          

Clarice Bean is learning about our planet and spreading the word in her own unique way. She is assigned a project at school titled The Environment, forcing her to take a good hard look at the world around her. When her brother Kurt stages a camp-out to save an old tree, Clarice and her other brother Minal pitch in by creating protest signs. And that's how Clarice becomes an ecowarrior, saving the planet in her own backyard. That's the plot in a nutshell, although there are always delightful bits tucked here and there in the Bean books, so there's many more fun details on every single page.  

Lauren Child just comes up the funniest bits, so wonderfully random. I like that she makes Clarice Bean weird and quirky. She irritates her teacher by falling off her chair on purpose and dodges the strange neighbor boy (wouldn't we all?) Robert Granger.  Her grandad butters his tie into his sandwich and has a friend named Bert the Shirt. Random!

Not only is this a typical super fun Clarice Bean read, but it also helps kids understand the importance of helping our environment. If we teach them while they are young and impressionable, caring about our planet will be second nature to them.  It is fitting that Lauren Child has always promoted recycling with her habit of using bits of magazine clippings, wrapping paper and scraps of fabric as art in her books. 

The other re-releases are Clarice Bean, That's Me and Clarice Bean, Guess Who's Babysitting? Get the whole set!

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press. 

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