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Most people will already be familiar with Charlie and Lola from the massively successful television series, based on the the books of Lauren Child.
The Clarice Bean books are by the same author, and are aimed at girls aged from 6 to 10. 'Utterly Me' is the first book in the series that contains 4 others.
Clarice Bean is nine years old, and the book charts her trials and tribulations with family, school friends, school teachers and most importantly, her infatuation with a fictional girl detective called Ruby Redford.
It is all written in the first person from Clarice's point of view. What the author does superbly is that she perfectly captures the speech and thought patterns of a nine year old girl.
This book is 188 pages long, during which nothing much happens. There is mild peril when friends fall out and somebody is wrongly accused of stealing the the 'Book Lovers Prize Cup' from school. However, the book chronicles the intensity of friendships, infatuations and the heightened sense of justice and injustice experienced by girls of that age. And the author does so, in a manner that is unpatronising, funky and attractive to the child reader.
An example of the gently humour used throughout, Clarice writes to Father Christmas: - 'Dear Father Christmas. If you are true, can I have a torch and if you are not true, then please can someone else get me one.'
The text is supported by excellent illustrations and anarchic use of lettering.
I think this series of books is fantastic. It turned our daughter into an 'independent reader' to use the school speak. I started off by reading this one aloud, which was fun to do as the chapters aren't too long and the books are written in a witty and funky style.
However because of the large lettering and heavy use of illustrations, my daughter soon felt able to tackle these herself.
The subject matter is safe, and for a young girl, Clarice reads like a kind gossipy friend who it is fun to have around.
If you are thinking of buying this book as a present, it is attractive to look at - the artwork on the front cover is immediately recognisable as being from the same stable as Charlie and Lola, and the paper used is better than average quality. In otherwords, this would be a nice present to give.
It is usually priced #5.99.