With Always, Clementine, Carlie Sorosiak delivers a heartfelt tale of wonder that will hold strong appeal for budding animal advocates.
A highly intelligent mouse named Clementine escapes a research lab and tries to find a place where she can be safe. Clementine is discovered by an eleven year old boy named Gus who lives with his grandfather. Gus sets up a hiding spot for his tiny new friend and soon discovers he has a genius mouse in his company. Throughout her emotional adventure, Clementine’s thoughts take the form of imagined letters to her dear chimpanzee friend at the lab, and she worries about the threats that face all of the animals she left behind. Eventually word spreads about her impressive intellectual ability and a reward is offered for her return. But returning her to the lab raises concerns about her wellbeing and might even risk her life. Instead of financial gain, Gus values friendship and the opportunity to learn from a being whose perspective is so unlike his own. Gus discovers his new rodent friend is not only good at chess, but great, and hatches a plan to bring attention to her plight. In the process, Gus realizes he might be able to help other animals who remain trapped at the lab too. Multiple intelligences are touched on with a minor subplot about Clementine’s quiet mouse-friend who demonstrates a keen spatial awareness and creative building skills. The realistic threat of being returned to the lab for continued experiments and dissection create tangible tension throughout, yet the imagery and situations are developed with sensitivity.
Compassionate friendships define this gentle middle grade animal fantasy.