Who doesn’t love Clarice Bean? Lauren Child started writing this hugely successful series way back in 1999. The first was the picture book Clarice Bean, That’s Me but this is the eighth, grown into a middle grade reader, following on from the 2021 Christmas themed Clarice Bean Think Like an Elf.
In this latest offering we find out how the family actually acquired their dog. It happened during the holidays when Clarice noticed an unaccompanied puppy sitting outside Clement’s, the corner shop. He follows her home and things get complicated from there on.
Clarice is conflicted. She is desperate to own her sister Marcie’s rainbow skates but not only does she not have enough money, Marcie is angry with her for a variety of reasons most of which are not really Clarice’s fault. But Marcie is desperate to have a dog and together they smuggle the puppy into the house and try unsuccessfully to keep him a secret from the rest of the family.
Events unfold told in Clarice’s trademark hilarious inner monologue with all its idiosyncratic emphases and word creations. Lauren uses different fonts to tell the story to great effect and, of course, the book is liberally illustrated in colour and black and white line throughout.
Another thing she does is have Clarice use tips and tricks from her favourite book character Ruby Redfort, an American girl detective. Originally these stories were not real, but now they are a series in their own right and I highly recommend them. (Start with the first Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes).
Lauren is adept at showing family life in all its messiness and reveals a warm understanding of family dynamics. This combined with the effervescent humour makes for a very addictive series as Lauren is never formulaic, her invention never flags and Clarice herself continues to delight.