Toay I’m taking part in a blog tour for Sara Pennypacker and her new book in the popular Clementine series, Clementine and the Spring Trip, which I am also giving away one copy of (U.S. and Canadian addresses only please). Read more from Sara, then leave a comment by midnight (PDT), July 3 for a chance to win.
Here’s a little more about her:
Sara Pennypacker (www.sarapennypacker.com) was a painter before becoming a writer, and has two absolutely fabulous children who are now grown. She has written several books, including the Clementine series, all illustrated by Marla Frazee, The Amazing World of Stuart, Sparrow Girl, and Summer of the Gypsy Moths. She grew up in Massachusetts and splits her time between Cape Cod and Florida.
Here she talks about why her books are about an ordinary girl in a normal family.
Hi, and thanks for inviting me – I’ve been poking around the blog all week, and feel right at home here. I only wish it had been around when I was raising my kids—it was mother-daughter reading experiences that led me to become a writer for children in the first place. Like all of you here, I spent a lot of time reading with my guys when they were little. As they aged into independent readers, their book choices differed—my son headed straight for the non-fiction section of the library, but my daughter was the child of my reading heart: she always chose stories. Through her, I fell in love with children’s fiction.
It feels right to talk about my Clementine series here because while Clementine is the main character, in my view, it’s her very ordinary, beautiful, funny family that’s the star of these books. The smart writer avoids functional parents for their characters; there’s no built in sympathy, as you have for the orphaned or neglected child, and there’s very little tension—that necessary, crackling charge that makes the reader tear through the pages. Clementine is loved, supported, and always protected…you never have to worry about her.
But I was drawn to write about this kind of family for two reasons. First, Clementine is based on my son, who had issues with attention (which, okay fine, he got from me) but she’s confident and happy. The only psychologically true way to create a girl like that was to give her fabulous parents and a great school environment. But more compellingly, as I surveyed the bookshelves, I noted a lack of contemporary stories about kids who were safe and cared for. I’m not disparaging in any way the many books out there that explore damaged kids in dysfunctional settings—they are incredibly moving, necessary, and sometimes life-changing. I merely wondered: if books are supposed to be both windows and mirrors, reflecting and framing the whole range of kids’
experiences, then where were the books for kids like Clementine, or kids who longed for her security?
The more I thought about that, the more attractive the idea became: write a series that celebrates the redeeming grace of the ordinary—kids being kids and grown-ups being grown up, and everyone just doing their best. The mom in the Clementine books is modeled loosely on the mom I was: although an artist, she’s the practical one of the parents, allowing the father to play the comedian role at times.
Clementine’s dad is more of a fantasy, I think— besides being funny, he’s reliable, strong, he listens, and he’s hopelessly in love with his wife and kids— and so I work hard to keep him real.
Oh, gosh, this all sounds so serious! The Clementine books are funny—I find Clementine’s world-view hilarious, and her parents, friends and teachers all face the challenges Clementine brings with such good humor. Because these are books about whole families, I’m always happiest to learn that families are reading them together. I’d be thrilled to hear about moms and daughters reading the series…
Follow Sara on her blog tour at these stops:
Thurs, June 20: Media Darlings
Fri, June 21: Sharpread
Mon, June 24: Children’s Book Review
Tues, June 25: Kid Lit Frenzy
Wed, June 26: There’s a Book
Thurs, June 27: As They Grow Up
Fri, June 28 Bookingmama