Books by Renée W. Andriani

Released: Sept. 20, 2018

"Funny, warm, and unreflective of the current White House."
In this rhyming, illustrated children's book, a young girl goes to the White House for a field trip and makes an unscheduled visit to the kitchen. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2010

On the first day of school, this primary-grade teacher encourages her students to share their hopes for the coming year. In one- or two-page spreads, the wishes unfold: for the best seat on the bus, a chocolate fountain at lunch, to kick the ball into the right goal, not to be a vegetable in the school play. The quotidian-but-nevertheless-marvelous ("at least one snow day") mixes with the slightly ridiculous ("We'll have Skateboard Day") to provide a kid-level survey of anticipated fun. Andriani's line-and-watercolor cartoons likewise mix the fanciful (one little boy brings his giant purple boa constrictor for show-and-tell) and the realistic (two girls jump double Dutch as one of them imagines making friends in her new school). A catalog more than a story, this agreeable book could act as a fruitful springboard for class brainstorming. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
EARTH DAY--HOORAY! by Stuart J. Murphy
Released: Feb. 1, 2004

A level 3 in the much-loved-by-teachers MathStart series, Murphy's latest focus is on place value. The members of the Maple Street School Save-the-Planet Club are working to fix up the park for the Earth Day festivities. After the trash is picked up, though, the park could still use some beautifying. The club decides to recycle aluminum cans to make the money to buy flowers. The text follows their efforts at collecting the cans and bagging them in groups of 1,000, 100, and 10. As they post their totals in the school hallway, readers see the bags and the way the numbers add up to make a grand total. Flyers, posters, and even the teacher's blackboard feature facts about recycling and the beginnings of Earth Day. Excellent activity suggestions follow the text, allowing parents and children to spend time together while learning. A marvelous addition to the series . . . and to any primary teacher's bookshelf. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

In an addition to his series that repeatedly demonstrates how much we don't know, Davis tackles the pioneer days and routes to the west. The flyleaf sets the tone by alerting readers to the "cool quotes" and "fascinating sidebars" of the volume and proclaiming, "The West doesn't get any wilder than this." An accessible resource for the many teachers who do units on the Oregon Trail, this offering covers such topics as Lewis and Clark, mountain men, trail dangers, the Gold Rush, cowboys, railroads, and Indian wars. The question-and-answer format invites browsing and offers a fair amount of information, but the work is condescending to young readers who don't need silly illustrations and dumb questions to entice them. "Did the pioneers take the Yellow Brick Road to Oregon?" "Did the pioneers use their best parachutes for jumping off?" "Were there Pilgrims on the trail?" The breezy, casual style fails to provide sufficient context for the occasional serious sidebars, such as General Sherman's statement that "the more Indians we kill this year, the less will have to be killed in the next war." The work does succeed in one of its missions—to tell the interesting story of real pioneers "who braved harsh winters and burning summers, disease and disaster, to head west in search of a dream come true." Though an adequate introduction, this is not for serious readers. (time line, additional resources) (Nonfiction. 6-9) Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2002

Cute and lightly amusing though not as funny as its predecessor (Starring in Just a Little Extra, 2000, etc.), this time Annabel, Conford's can-do budding actress heroine, is offered a part in an interactive mystery play. Annabel, who lives by the motto "no part too big or too small," is thrilled at the opportunity, but when she arrives at her first rehearsal, isn't happy to discover that she'll be sharing the stage with Binky, a gigantic dog who drools by the bucketful. Ever game, Annabel comforts herself with the notion that her favorite star, Winona McCall, had to deal with wild rhinoceroses and leopards in her last movie, while she just has "to work with a huge dog the size of a Jeep." Aptly illustrated by Andriani's droll black-and-white drawings, the humor in this series is fueled by Annabel's comic obsession to perform no matter what obstacles are thrown her way. And Conford piles them on, having her young heroine cope not only with Binky, but a ridiculous bunny costume and finally, on the night of the performance, heckling from her hateful classmate Lowell Boxer. But Annabel, who is intelligent and resourceful, proves to be a "real trooper," and her quick thinking saves the day. Particularly good is that Annabel's idea is both credible and childlike, the kind of save that an actual kid could come up with. Sadly, despite the fact that the Conford's production is smooth and professional, it's also rather hollow, technically on point but lacking her special brand of energized sparkle. (Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
BABY ON THE WAY by William Sears
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

TLC is the main ingredient in this first of a series for children by these leading husband-and-wife experts on parenting. With help from Christie Watts Kelly (New Families, New Finances: Money Skills for Today's Nontraditional Families, 1998, etc.), the Sears Children's Library begins with the preparations necessary when a family is expecting its newest member. Older siblings are taught about the developing baby and included in what their mother is experiencing. As her body changes from day to day, the children are given examples of when they may have had similar feelings of physical discomfort. Suggestions for further involvement include ideas for how the children can help around the house and welcome the new baby. Preceding the story are tips for parents to encourage family bonding during the pregnancy, and a resource box following the story teaches expectant moms and dads about "attachment parenting." Factual information boxes throughout the pages include answers to children's more advanced questions, allowing parents to modify the story as a child ages. Andriani's (Annabel the Actress Starring in Gorilla My Dreams, 1999, etc.) illustrations come alive with even brush strokes of vivid watercolor. The light and dark shades display subtle transitions that easily reveal depth and shadow. Black sketched outlines lend excellent detail to the artwork. At a time when an older sibling's self-assurance may become challenged, the importance of honesty, tenderness, and inclusion are evident and appreciated. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

The author of the popular adult Don't Know Much About series goes after a younger audience, laying out a skimpy assortment of random facts about the states and using the same lighthearted Q&A format. With Andriani's small cartoon illustrations liberally scattered about for color, Davis pauses at each state in alphabetical order, starting with a box of facts in brief, then, along with the occasional lame joke ("What has four eyes but can't see? Mississippi"), introducing a handful of historical events, famous natives, natural features, or unique characteristics. Browsers may pause here for a few moments—before going on to more substantial tours of the US, such as Lila Perl's It Happened in America (1992). Because Davis's accuracy is sometimes as casual as his style—not all of the Alamo's defenders were Texans, for instance, and Davy Crockett wore a coonskin cap far more often in legend than in life—it's not a primary purchase for libraries. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Conford's (Crush, 1999, etc.) wit twinkles in her delightful new chapter book that chronicles the return of Annabel, the aspiring actress who is about to get her "Big Break." "I've been waiting to be discovered for years," the ten-year-old tells the director of Day After Doom, a television movie that plans to use local citizens as extras. The movie is a scary thriller and Annabel, who desperately wants to be cast, spends the night practicing her "screaming, choking and fainting" so loudly and convincingly that she drives her father from the living room and gives herself a headache and a sore throat. On the big day, Annabel, along with her best friend Maggie and Maggie's older brother, join the throngs of people waiting to be cast as well as those hoping to get a glimpse of actress Winona McCall, who is starring in the movie. When the high-spirited Annabel finds out that her acting job is not the sure thing she thought it was, she stages a scene of her own, winning for herself if not a speaking part, then at least a screaming one. Annabel is an appealing creation, sassy and sunny, and Conford gets plenty of comic juice out of her gung-ho off-center perspective. The book also has a good time poking gentle fun at the acting community—when the director asks Annabel if she's eight, for example, Annabel tells him that she's ten, but that she "dressed young." Enhanced by Andriani's charming black-and-white drawings, younger girls in search of a funny, fast-paced chapter book need look no further.(Fiction. 7-10)Read full book review >