In The Talented Clementine, the second book in Sara Pennypacker's Clementine series, I’m immediately reminded why I like this little girl so much. She notices things. “I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened anyway.”
Then Clementine noticed another interesting truth. She gave her teacher a wonderful suggestion, “But he ignored me, which is called Getting on with the Day when a teacher does it, and Being Inconsiderate when a kid does it.”
When she asked Mrs. Rice the difference between smashed and crashed, Mrs. Rice handed her a dictionary. “And then suddenly I didn’t want to know anymore! That is the miracle about dictionaries!” How many of us teachers never realized that exact truth with our students? (C’mon, I don’t see very many hands up. I know you’re out there…)
Clementine also notices that she has no talents. The third and fourth grades are putting on a talent show – Talent-Palooza, Night of the Stars (thank you, Margaret) – and she’s got nothing to offer. No singing. No dancing. No musical instruments. Not even hopping. Her father gave her some good suggestions – she’s good at math, she has new ideas, she won the Great Pigeon War, she’s empathetic. Unfortunately she can’t do those things on a stage.
Clementine’s attempts to discover a hidden talent include beer bottles, Elvis, new shoes, and a leash on her brother, Spinach. None work. In the end, however, it’s Clementine’s unique talent that saves the entire talent show. Even Mrs. Rice acknowledges that without Clementine, there would have been no show at all.
(By the way, just in case you were wondering, Clementine noticed one more thing. The difference between smashed and crashed? Crashed is easier to clean up.)