Children's Authors/Andrew Clements

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Biographical Information[edit | edit source]

Andrew Clements was born May 29, 1949 in Camden, New Jersey. He passed away at the age of 70 on November 28, 2019. 2 He was living in Massachusetts with his wife with which he had four sons when he was alive. Clements prefers to write in the solitude of a backyard shed; so much in fact that he keeps the windows covered so he won’t be tempted to watch the backyard birds. He likes to take notes, research, write, and then revise. 4

School has always been important to Clements, he began reading before kindergarten, and became an avid reader. His parents were both avid readers and they passed that heritage onto their children. That heritage fostered a love of libraries and school; which eventually led to him becoming a teacher. 2 Clements graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree; he then graduated with his master's degree in teaching from National Louis University. 2 He began teaching in Chicago Public Schools beginning with fourth grade, then eighth grade English. Clements eventually moved on to teach high school English where he especially liked to read aloud and discuss the books with his students.
For a time, Andrew Clements worked in New York as a singer-songwriter. Although his music career did not last long, it was where he first learned to sit and write things down. This and his love of books eventually led to a job as an editor of children’s books, and finally, to writing his own stories. The school environment is the setting of many of his books. He writes that “School is a rich setting because schools and education are at the heart of every community.” 1

His first two books, Bird Adalbert and Noah and the Ark and the Animals, were written under the name Andrew Elborn. 3

His first novel, Frindle, was published in 1996 and to this day it is his most popular book. It was the publishing of Frindle that launched his full time writing career. Clements is a prolific author of over 60 books: including picture books, reading program books, nonfiction, middle-grade novels, and young adult novels. He has earned many awards for his books, including over 20 awards for Frindle alone.

Books of Interest[edit | edit source]

Clements, A. (1996). Frindle. New York, NY : Aladdin Paperbacks.
After Nick gets in trouble with Mrs. Granger on the first day of school and is sentenced to a report about the dictionary, Nick comes up with an amazing idea. The problem is that his idea to create a new word for pen, Frindle, seems to cause more and more trouble and he can’t seem to stop it. The vivid descriptions of Nick’s adventure are sure to draw the reader in and engage them in predicting what will happen next and who will win! Through an unforgettable story blended with real facts and a believable setting and dialogue, Clements draws in children of all ages to wonder at the power of words. A quick look at any dictionary will show students that Clements has included real dictionary definitions as part of his work including the introduction to the dictionary.

Clements, A. (1997). Double Trouble in Walla Walla. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publishing. Salvatore Murdocca (Illustrator).
Things go topsy-turvy for Lulu, her teacher, the school nurse and principal, when they all get sucked into a helter-skelter word warp and begin talking in jibber-jabber doubles. Children will love the rhymes and tongue twisters. This is a book everyone will want to read again and again. The illustrations by Salvatore Murdocca are colorful and include the integration of text in speech bubbles and delightful fonts and colors. The words eventually spin like a tornado right on the page. Readers will feel the power of words as they interact with this book and begin talking in humorous two-word phrases. It is great fun!

Clements, A. (2001). Ringo saves the day! New York, NY:Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
This book is part of the Pets to the Rescue series and is geared toward beginning readers. As with all the books in the series this book is based on a true account of a pet rescuing his owners. Throughout the book the author uses simple wording and detailed illustrations to tell the story of a pet cat that ends up helping its owners to be safe. The book features vocabulary that will draw in beginning readers as they begin reading simple books. The illustrations follow the text and help show the reader more information that they can’t get from the text because of its simplicity.

Clements, A .(2002). Things not seen. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
What would happen if you woke up one morning and realized you were invisible? Should you tell anyone, or just quietly run away? What would happen if anyone did find out? How would you live your life? These are the questions 15 year old Bobby is faced with in Things Not Seen – the first book in a young adult trilogy about being invisible, growing up and really seeing. In real life invisibility may be a silly dream, but Clements makes it feel real and authentic. This book would interest anyone from middle school and up, because it talks candidly about conflicts with authority, friendship, and first love. Things Not Seen won several awards including the American Library Association Schneider Family Book Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Book, California Young Readers Medal, and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and Young Adult Library Services. It is a marvelous, compelling story that needs to be read.

Clements, A. (2009). No talking. New York, NY : Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
When the entire 5th grade at Laketon Elementary School stops talking, the adventure begins for parents, students and teachers and it is all thanks to one kid, Dave. Each chapter is filled with new challenges and Dave’s thoughts about his great idea that seems to be changing his school forever. Clements draws the reader in with precise vocabulary and a first person account that includes realistic dialogue. Dialogue is presented using believable phrasing and typical eleven year old speech patterns. Pictures are used periodically throughout the book to help the reader to visualize what is happening.

Clements, A. (2010). Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School, Book 1: We the Children. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Adam Stower (Illustrator).
The first of a new series, We the Children is full of mystery and suspense. Middle readers will be pulled into the story from the first chapter. The school janitor gives Ben a gold coin and then suddenly dies! Ben and Jill must use the coin and other clues to save their two-hundred-year-old harbor-side school. Readers will love discovering clues with the characters. History buffs will want to study how this book ties into early US History. Anyone who sails will love the exciting sailboat race at the end. Illustrations by Adam Stower are black and white with just a touch of blue color added to some objects. In the second book, the illustrations are highlighted with red.

Comparing These Texts[edit | edit source]

Clements' writing style is first or third person narrative. In the first person narratives, you can imagine the character actually speaking to you. This is accomplished by using descriptive language and sentences starting with the words: and, or, and but. He also uses sentence fragments and periods to accentuate the pauses and incomplete thoughts of everyday speech and thought. This creates characters that are realistic and believable. The settings and events portrayed in his stories make it easy for readers to relate to the characters.
Clements writes about things he knows which is why school is his most common setting. Clements' twin sons, and his family's interest in music and the outdoors, has a major influence on the content of his writing. His characters often “have more on the ball than adults give them credit for.” 3

References[edit | edit source]

1. Andrew Clements: Books, Biography. 2012.
2. Andrew Clements Biography. 2009.
3. Andrew Clements: Biography from 2012.
4. Rodia, Becky. 2003. The complex world of Andrew Clements. Teaching Pre K-8. Vol. 34,3. p. 56-58. Accessed 3/31/2012 at
5. :