CLARICE BEAN: Review of a Children’s Book

Lauren Child’s charming chapter book, Utterly MeClarice Bean was not my first encounter with the girl of the title.  Several years ago, I found a book at Half Price Books for my Little Free Library (LFL) entitled Clarice Bean Spells Trouble which was about a kid who couldn’t spell if her life depended on it and a teacher, Mrs. Wilberton, who couldn’t understand why Clarice “just didn’t try.” This book, Utterly Me… is evidently the first in the Clarice Bean series. Clarice and her best friend, Betty Moody are “utterly” (Clarice’s favorite word) hooked on the Ruby Redford series (think Nancy Drew with James Bond gadgets and Batman’s butler).

Not only do Clarice and Betty follow the books (of which excerpts are included throughout), they write to the author and use the girl detective’s methods to solve a mystery in their own classroom, much to Mrs. Wilberton’s dismay  (She is not a fan of either Ruby Redford or Clarice.), Clarice and Betty decide to do their book report on a Ruby Redford book they are reading. Betty disappears, Clarice is partnered with the worst boy in class (who turns out not to be so bad), and eventually the mystery is solved with the culprit astonishing Mrs. Wilberton.

Secondary characters like Clarice’s and Betty’s parents, Clarice’s siblings, and various students in their class add humor, interest, and satisfaction. The cartoonish drawings which illustrate the story are excellent as well.

It is aimed at 8 year olds to early junior high, providing an excellent starter-chapter book for any girl or boy.  I received it as a discard from a local elementary school for my LFL, free, so I can boast that my five out of five star rating is totally unbiased. I am glad I took the time to read the book.


Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

9 thoughts on “CLARICE BEAN: Review of a Children’s Book”

    1. One of my favorite books I was ASKED to review was The Beat on Ruby’s Street, aimed at twelve year olds. It was soooo much fun. I understand your looking forward to reading the kid’s book. I am fine, just busy busy. School (teaching at both the local community college and the university was eating my lunch for awhile, but for the time being, things are under control. I did not leave the house today except to put books in my LFL and to get the mail, but my cleaning friend came today and so did two very important people in my life. My “grandson” (a student who came through my Advanced Writing class in around 2007 and now has his PhD and is teaching full time (5 classes!) at the main campus of U of H (I am at U of H Clear Lake campus) came to help My Better Half with a computer task, and he stayed long enough to meet a long time friend who has a son (with the same name) who came to visit bringing our Christmas present! Although we haven’t been in each other’s physical presence since before Christmas and both have horribly busy schedules, we text almost daily. We live in the same town, and My Better Half was her husband’s mentor all through high school. She and I met at Weight Watchers back in 2000, and she said, “I think my husband knows your husband…” and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. We are so blessed to have multigenerational friends and love them and they love us back. What a blessing.


  1. This one sounds like great fun, Rae. Thank you for an excellent review – it would have been an inspiration to my granddaughter if she had encountered such a book when she was the appropriate age:)

    Liked by 1 person

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