Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine (Hyperion, $5.99) is by far my favorite character from an early reader series. She’s spunky and resourceful, with a sense of humor. She gets into trouble a lot, mostly for not paying attention, but she is paying attention, just not always to her teacher. Nevertheless, she has quirky relationship with her teachers and principal, and ultimately they seem to understand that Clementine always has the best of intentions. Her parents encourage her uniqueness and gently remind her how much she is loved. Marla Frazee’s illustrations are perfectly paired with the text and bring out the subtle humor in this story. The image of Clementine talking to the principal is priceless! The fifth book in this series, Clementine and the Family Meeting, has recently been released in paperback. Luckily there are two more Clementine books to come before the series ends.
Sunny Holiday, by Coleen Paratore, has become a recent favorite (Scholastic, $5.99). Sunny is more assertive and confident than Clementine, and is not afraid to speak her mind. Sunny and her best friend Jazzy live in an apartment building filled with strong, independent women who gather together for a monthly dance party. Surrounded by these role models, Sunny decides to create a Kid’s Day, and in the process learns how much influence kids really can have. The second book in the series, Sweet and Sunny, is still in hardcover. Sunny has a lot more to say, so here’s hoping we see more of this series.