Clementine Loves Red

This is an interesting book giving us, as it does, an interesting glimpse of rural Poland in Soviet times. At least that might interest adults. Children, I suspect, will be far more enthralled by the fun and mayhem of the story itself.

Clementine was first published in 1970 in Poland and this is a translation of the original. It’s a convoluted story about children finding a small girl, Macadamia, who claims to have lost someone called Clementine. Mark, Annie and Pudding head into the night to search for the mysterious Clementine. They leave friends Eddie and Freddie to stay with Macadamia, but soon they too head off to find adventure – or possibly Clementine. And that’s not all. Teddy, son of the local policeman, then sneaks out on the search and brings his dog Pickles. In the woods, a thunderstorm adds to the chaos and the children are seperated. Clementine is still nowhere to be seen.

It is a convoluted story, as I said, and the style is quite old-fashioned. This is a world where non-politically correct youngsters play ‘Red Indians’ and where it is absolutely fine to nickname Derek ‘Pudding’. He is quite chubby after all! It reminded me of halcyon days reading Enid Blyton, not knowing that she was inadvertently offending half the known world.

The book is beautifully produced by Pushkin Children’s Books. I particularly enjoyed Butenko’s wonderfully playful illustrations. An acquired taste, but definitely worth a read.