Andrew Clements - book author
I was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1949 and lived in Oaklyn and Cherry Hill until the middle of sixth grade. Then we moved to Springfield, Illinois. My parents were avid readers and they gave that love of books and reading to me and to all my brothers and sisters. I didn’t think about being a writer at all back then, but I did love to read. I'm certain there's a link between reading good books and becoming a writer. I don't know a single writer who wasn’t a reader first.
Before moving to Illinois, and even afterwards, our family spent summers at a cabin on a lake in Maine. There was no TV there, no phone, no doorbell—and email wasn’t even invented. All day there was time to swim and fish and mess around outside, and every night, there was time to read. I know those quiet summers helped me begin to think like a writer.
During my senior year at Springfield High School my English teacher handed back a poem I’d written. Two things were amazing about that paper. First, I’d gotten an A—a rare event in this teacher’s class. And she’d also written in large, scrawly red writing, “Andrew—this poem is so funny. This should be published!”
That praise sent me off to Northwestern University feeling like I was a pretty good writer, and occasionally professors there also encouraged me and complimented the essays I was required to write as a literature major. But I didn’t write much on my own—just some poetry now and then. I learned to play guitar and began writing songs, but again, only when I felt like it. Writing felt like hard work—something that’s still true today.
After the songwriting came my first job in publishing. I worked for a small publisher who specialized in how-to books, the kind of books that have photos with informative captions below each one. The book in which my name first appeared in print is called A Country Christmas Treasury. I’d built a number of the projects featured in the book, and I was listed as one of the “craftspeople”on the acknowlegements page, in tiny, tiny type.
In 1990 I began trying to write a story about a boy who makes up a new word. That book eventually became my first novel, Frindle, published in 1996, and you can read the whole story of how it developed on another web site, frindle.com. Frindle became popular, more popular than any of my books before or since—at least so far. And it had the eventual effect of turning me into a full-time writer.
I’ve learned that I need time and a quiet place to think and write. These days, I spend a lot of my time sitting in a small shed about seventy feet from my back door at our home in Massachusetts. There’s a woodstove in there for the cold winters, and an air conditioner for the hot summers. There’s a desk and chair, and I carry a laptop computer back and forth. But there’s no TV, no phone, no doorbell, no email. And the woodstove and the pine board walls make the place smell just like that cabin in Maine where I spent my earliest summers.
Sometimes kids ask how I've been able to write so many books. The answer is simple: one word at a time. Which is a good lesson, I think. You don't have to do everything at once. You don't have to know how every story is going to end. You just have to take that next step, look for that next idea, write that next word. And growing up, it's the same way. We just have to go to that next class, read that next chapter, help that next person. You simply have to do that next good thing, and before you know it, you're living a good life.
Andrew Clements is the author of books: Frindle, Things Not Seen (Things, #1), No Talking, The Report Card, The School Story, Extra Credit, The Landry News, Lunch Money, A Week in the Woods, The Janitor's Boy
Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school -- and he's always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he's got the inspiration for his best plan ever...the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there's nothing Nick can do to stop it.
There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to Bobby's new condition; even his dad the physicist can't figure it out. For Bobby that means no school, no friends, no life. He's a missing person. Then he meets Alicia. She's blind, and Bobby can't resist talking to her, trusting her. But people are starting to wonder where Bobby is. Bobby knows that his invisibility could have dangerous consequences for his family and that time is running out. He has to find out how to be seen again before it's too late.
The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don't get along very well. But the real problem is that these kids are loud and disorderly. That's why the principal uses her red plastic bullhorn. A lot.
Then one day Dave Packer, a certified loudmouth, bumps into an idea -- a big one that makes him try to keep quiet for a whole day. But what does Dave hear during lunch? A girl, Lynsey Burgess, jabbering away. So Dave breaks his silence and lobs an insult. And those words spark a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it's the boys against the girls.
How do the teachers react to the silence? What happens when the principal feels she's losing control? And will Dave and Lynsey plunge the whole school into chaos?
This funny and surprising book is about language and thought, about words unspoken, words spoken in anger, and especially about the power of words spoken in kindness...with or without a bullhorn. It's Andrew Clements at his best -- thought-provoking, true-to-life, and very entertaining.
Nora Rose Rowley is a genius, but don't tell anyone. She's managed to make it to the fifth grade without anyone figuring out that she's not just an ordinary kid, and she wants to keep it that way.
But then Nora gets fed up with the importance everyone attaches to test scores and grades, and she purposely brings home a terrible report card just to prove a point. Suddenly the attention she's successfully avoided all her life is focused on her, and her secret is out. And that's when things start to get really complicated....
Natalie's best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie's written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie's mother is an editor for a big children's publisher, but Natalie doesn't want to ask for any favors.
Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it's not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?
The bad news is that Cara Landry is the new kid at Denton Elementary School. The worse news is that her teacher, Mr. Larson, would rather read the paper and drink coffee than teach his students anything. So Cara decides to give Mr. Larson something else to read -- her own newspaper, The Landry News.
Before she knows it, the whole fifth-grade class is in on the project. But then the principal finds a copy of The Landry News, with unexpected results. Tomorrow's headline: Will Cara's newspaper cost Mr. Larson his job?
Multiply a few quarters by a few hundred kids, and for Greg, school suddenly looks like a giant piggy bank. All he needs is the right hammer to crack it open. Candy and gum? Little toys? Sure, kids would love to buy stuff like that at school. But would teachers and the principal permit it? Not likely.
But how about comic books? Comic books might work. Especially the chunky little ones that Greg writes and illustrates himself. Because everybody knows that school always encourages reading and writing and creativity and individual initiative, right?
In this funny and timely novel, Andrew Clements again holds up a mirror to real life, and invites young readers to think about money, school, friendship, and what it means to be a success.
The fifth-grade Week in the Woods is a beloved tradition of Hardy Elementary, where Mark Chelmsley (the Fourth) is pretty much killing time before his parents send him off to an exclusive prep school. But then Mark realizes the Week might be a chance to prove to Mr. Maxwell that he's not just another of the slacker rich kids the teacher can't stand.
But it may be too late for Mark to change Mr. Maxwell's opinion of him. On the first day of the Week, the tension between teacher and student explodes, and in a reckless moment, Mark puts not only himself, but also Mr. Maxwell, in grave danger. Can two such strong adversaries work together to save their lives?
Unfortunately, it also led to the perfect punishment. When Jack Rankin gets busted for defacing a school desk with a huge wad of disgusting, watermelon bubble gum, the principal sentences him to three weeks of after-school gum cleanup for the chief custodian. The problem is, Jack's anger at the chief custodian was the reason for his gum project in the first place. The chief custodian happens to be Jack's dad.
But doing time in the school basement after hours reveals some pretty surprising things: about the school, about Jack's father, and about Jack himself.