Clementine for Christmas

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4.5 (2)
 
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Clementine for Christmas
Age Range
10+
Release Date
August 26, 2015
ISBN
978-0545839518
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Josie usually keeps to herself, but she comes out of her shell when she and her dog, Clementine, volunteer at the local hospital during the holiday season. Josie loves dressing up in silly costumes, singing carols, and helping to prepare for the big Christmas Festival. That is, until she learns that this year's Festival has been canceled. Meanwhile, Oscar's parents are fighting more and more--and so is he. He gets into trouble at school, and his punishment? Volunteer hours at the local hospital. Gabby's life seems perfect. She's stylish, smart, and everyone looks up to her. But Gabby has a secret, one that could ruin everything. Then, Clementine disappears, Oscar's parents separate, and Gabby's secret is uncovered. Together, can Josie, Oscar, and Gabby find a way to save the holiday, or will this be the worst Christmas ever?

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Perfect for Christmas
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Josie loves Christmas, especially making memories with her dog Clementine volunteering at the children's hospital. Oscar's parents are always fighting and it breeds his dislike for Christmas even more. Gabby seems to have it all, but the truth is that her family doesn't have much money and she has a medical problem that causes seizures. These are three very different people, so it's interesting to see them interact with each other.

Oscar is forced to volunteer at the hospital Josie volunteers at, but he isn't much help. Instead, he's a grump who makes Josie's time there frustrating, even though it's something she loves. Gabby wants to keep her epilepsy a secret, but what happens when Oscar and Josie discover Gabby in the hospital getting checkups? What happens when Clementine goes missing and the Christmas festival Josie's been working hard to put on is canceled?

There's a lot going on in this, but it's done well. The story is packed with emotion and holds your attention the whole way through. I like seeing Oscar open up after witnessing so many ill children. It makes him realize that everyone has problems and some have it worse than others. CLEMENTINE FOR CHRISTMAS will get you in the Christmas spirit and lift your heart as these three children come together to make things right.


Final Verdict: This is perfect for fans of Christmas, dogs, and friendship. It's heart-warming and perfect for those who might be going through a difficult time.
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Perfect stocking stuffer- no wrapping needed!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Josie has a decent life in Frost Ridge, where she lives with her Vietnamese grandparents and mother. Her father passed away from cancer and her grandfather has had hip surgery, so the extra support is appreciated by all the generations. Josie is very grateful for Clementine, the dog she got for Christmas the year her father passed. She loves everything about Christmas, from the wild sweaters her grandmother knits to the play that is put on at the hospital where she volunteers with Clementine. Oscar, on the other hand, is NOT a fan of Christmas, since that is when his parents' arguments seem to become louder and more frequent. After a particularly harrowing morning at home, someone at school makes him angry, and he gets suspended for hitting another boy. He also has to do community service, and ends up volunteering in the children's ward with Josie. He doesn't want to get into the spirit of things, wearing a costume and singing to children the way that Josie does, but does enjoy hanging out with Clementine, and slowly understands why Josie volunteers of her own choice. When popular fashionista Gabby ends up as a patient in the children's ward, Josie and Oscar are a little surprised. Gabby is having trouble keeping her epilepsy under control, and is concerned that classmates will make fun of her just like they did din her old school, so she promises to help Josie organize the Christmas pageant, if she and Oscar promise to keep her condition a secret. In the end, the three help each other out tremendously, even though there are missteps along the way.
Good Points
The characters in this book all reflect actual middle school students brilliantly. Josie feels unpopular, even though she is happy with her homemade sweaters and ill-fitting jeans. Oscar is angry at many things, and this shows itself in his behavior at school. Gabby wants to retain her hard-earned popularity by dressing like the popular girls even though it takes ingenuity to stretch her money and is a physical hardship for her when her epilepsy becomes unmanageable. The way that the three of them are thrown together isn't overly forced (although I don't know how the principal of the school could mandate community service without even talking with Oscar's parents!), and they aren't friends immediately-- in fact, they are wary of each other for most of the book!

There were many multicultural characters in the book without the book being about any one culture, which was refreshing to see. Josie is half Vietnamese, Gabby is Hispanic, and Frost Ridge is populated with characters with Asian, Italian and Indian names, as well as several African-American characters. Most of the characters struggle a bit economically, which is more realistic than having them all live in multimillion dollar houses! Middle grade readers like to know that other children are struggling with parents who fight or parents who are worried about their jobs.

Clementine is a fantastic character, too, and her service in the hospital is well-described.

There are not many Christmas related books for middle grade readers, and the cover on this is great, although I would have liked to see one of Josie's grandmother's sweaters in the picture somewhere! Fans of thought-provoking novels like Bauer's Almost Home, Booth's Kinda Like Brothers, or Schroeder's It's Raining Cupcakes will enjoy this tale of community service around the holidays.
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