Clarice Bean, Think Like an Elf

Candlewick. (Clarice Bean). Sept. 2022. 240p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536223651.
Gr 3-6–The latest installment of the series starts with the title character saying, “Christmas cannot be Christmas without the Christmas spirit, so it is important to keep an eye on it and not let it float away.” But the Christmas spirit is at risk this year when Clarice’s parents decide to have a quiet Christmas with only their family. Clarice is determined to keep the spirit alive. Her best friend’s mom tells her to focus on the good things, so Clarice follows this advice by making lots of Christmas cards, helping around the house, and giving to others. She encounters many obstacles, including packages sent to the wrong people and a Christmas turkey eaten by her dog. Despite all this, Clarice learns that the smallest things make the biggest difference at Christmas and in life. The book contains many laugh-out-loud moments for young and adult readers, including the family’s receipt of Christmas cards “from people who you can’t remember who they are,” and wonderful character descriptions like the one of Clarice’s teacher with a voice “that is the sound of constant droning. At least my voice can go up and down—she only has one note and it is flat.” Text is presented in a very reader-friendly style, with bold words, changes in font size, and short paragraphs. Child’s illustrations and collages perfectly complement the text and bring the characters, setting, and Christmas spirit to life.
VERDICT An absolutely charming story for the Christmas season, and an essential purchase for fans of the “Clarice Bean” series.

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