Chatham Elementary School’s talent show was the inspiration behind author Sara Pennypacker’s newest “Clementine” book The Talented Clementine. In recalling my recent interview with Pennypacker, she’d asked if I’d ever seen an elementary school talent show, adding “they’re wonderful.” Now I feel I have, as she so candidly portrays one in this book -- with kids cart-wheeling offstage and throwing-up on!
In the events leading up to the talent show and a surprise-twist ending, Pennypacker’s Clementine, a third-grader who normally worries about nothing, panics. Her teacher has announced the third graders will put on a talent show – a “Talent-palooza.” But Clementine has no obvious talents, having no ability to dance, act, or play any musical instrument.
To reiterate the author’s words, though, “Clementine’s parents are very supportive” and remind her she’s “funny, creative, and empathetic.”
Clementine’s dad, for example, enforces these ideas by reminding his daughter that she is talented, especially at seeing things in a fresh light and “noticing things.” And even though his daughter visits the school principal so often Principal Rice readies a hand for the inevitable teacher’s note -- no more will Clementine just share the principal’s office seats. She will share a new seat, bringing her yet closer to Principal Rice!
Ultimately, Pennypacker’s hilarious twist of a Clementine plot flows as naturally as her loveable heroine, who has noteworthy tricks up her sleeve by book’s end.