Southwest Children's Literature

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Clarence and the Great Surprise

Book Review:

Clarence and the Great Surprise by Jean Ekman Adams tells of a wonderful story about two friends traveling through the West bound for the city. This story teaches children the meaning of true friendships and that it can come in different shapes, sizes, and even colors. Clarence is a city pig and Smoky is a purple horse.

As these two friends start their travels, Smoky reveals to Clarence that he has a great surprise for him, which excites Smoky. Clarence travels up a mountain and down a mountain, over a rock, and through some water on Smokey's back. During the evening, Smoky helps Clarence set up his tent since he is a city pig and has never slept in a tent. When they first wake up, they notice that there is a dog following them on their adventure. Clarence has never been in a lake before. As they are on their way to the city Clarence and Smoky realized that there is a dog humming. They decide that he will be coming along with them and are excited that he is there. Edgar is what Smoky and Clarence decided to call him, which he seems happy with.

The next night they decide to stay at a hotel, where Clarence is happy, since he loves to order room service. The next evening they meet some horses that can sing "Home on the Range." After they are done singing they notice that Edgar is gone. Clarence starts to miss Edgar and is sad that he can't find him. It brings Clarence much joy when Edgar is found. Smoky then reveals that the Great surprise will be revealed tomorrow. The great surprise turns out to be bigger than words, which leads Edgar in a jitterbug dance. They find it hard to leave the great surprise, which Clarence then asks asked Smoky if he will ever leave him, which he says no. Children can enjoy the adventures of Clarence and Smoky through laughter and also learn the meaning of friendship.

The author-illustrator has done a wonderful job enhancing the book with her vibrant illustration. The pictures in the story are made up of orange, purple, green, and yellow. Her imaginary and fantastic illustrations, which give the reader a sense of imagination and texture, are done in pen and ink on watercolor paper.

Link to an interview with author-illustrator Jean Ekman Adams

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