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Rating: 4/5 Stars
Release Date: 1/4/2011
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About the Book: Clara Lee is wondering if she has what it takes to become Little Miss Apple Pie. If she was chosen she'd get to ride on a float in the parade, wear a tiara and sash and help Miss Apple Pie toss candy to the crowd. But in order to be chosen, Clara Lee would have to give a speech in front the whole school, which sounds too nerve wracking!
After Clara Lee has a bad dream and tells her grandpa, who learned to interpret dreams in Korea, about the dream, Grandpa says it's not scary, but instead means Clara Lee has good luck coming her way! Could good luck bring Clara Lee her apple pie dream? And is she even American as apple pie enough to be Little Miss Apple Pie?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'm a big fan of Jenny Han, especially her first novel, the fantastic tween novel Shug. So when I saw she was heading back to MG territory, I was thrilled!
Clara Lee is a younger tween read, but perfect for young tweens looking for an easy chapter book to read. Clara Lee's voice is fun and she surrounds herself with a memorable cast of characters. Her relationship with her Grandpa is sweet and I loved when Clara Lee would try to spell the words Grandpa was trying to read-too cute. She has an annoying little sister Emmeline, who must be the star of everything and tries to steal the spotlight. The sister dynamic will resonate with anyone who grew up with a sister (older or younger)-Jenny Han has it spot on! And Clara Lee's frustration with her parents will be something readers can easily relate to.
Clara Lee isn't perfect-and that's what I like about her. Sure, she's full of optimism and has a lot of spunk to her, but she also gets upset with her parents after they punish her, as well as getting into a disagreement with a friend at school. Life is never easy or fair, but Clara Lee learns to deal with it the best she can.
The book has a nice message without ever getting too preachy and messagey. In fact, it's so well written into the story that I think tweens won't feel like they're getting a book with a "lesson" but instead will just enjoy a fun story. I wish the book had been a bit longer. I really liked Clara Lee and wanted to spend just a bit more time with her. There are also some side characters I wish we could have gotten just a bit more of. I really hope this turns into a series because I'd love more adventures with Clara Lee!
Book Pairings: Clara Lee would pair perfectly with other spunky tween heriones like Clementine, Judy Moody, Ivy & Bean, and Piper Reed. Although the book is much shorter, I think readers who enjoy the Allie Finkle series would also enjoy Clara Lee.
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC picked up at ALA Annual from publisher