I was really saddened to hear of the passing of Andrew Clements on November 29, 2019. In his career as an author, Andrew Clements wrote more than 80 books for young people including picture books, young adult novels, and, of course, his school stories.
When I was in elementary school, I started reading school stories. I loved reading books about real kids in real situations having believable adventures. As a child, I was a reader who disliked book series, didn’t enjoy fantasy novels, and longed for a little more reality in my books. I still read a lot of realistic fiction, but for me there will always be one author who wrote these stories better than anyone else, and that is Andrew Clements.
The first time I read FRINDLE I was instantly hooked. Here was a book about real kids who were funny, smart, and clever and made the smallest silliest change in the world just by changing the word pen to frindle. As a kid, I was too much of a teacher’s pet to even think about pulling pranks like Nicholas Allen – but I knew if he was in my class I would have started calling all of my pens frindles.
Though I’m sad to hear of the passing of one of my favorite authors, I’m so glad for a chance to look back on his career with gratitude for the role he played in building my love of learning. One of my favorite quotes from Andrew Clements is about why he likes to write stories even though he admits it’s difficult for him to do:
“Three days ago on a windy, drizzly day in New England, I stacked firewood for five hours straight, three cords of wood — had to be a couple tons of the stuff. It was difficult, but all winter now, there will be a cheery fire in the fireplace, and toasty warmth from the stove in my writing shed in the back yard. I like cheery fires and toasty stoves enough to want to do the hard work of stacking wood.
"I know from my own experience that reading a good book can be a life-changing event. So I'm willing, actually happy, to do the work of stacking all those words so they'll give off some heat and light in another's life on a winter afternoon or a summer night. And if I have the ability to perhaps make that happen, then the work becomes fun.”