Zimmerman, Andrea 1950- (Andrea Griffing Zimmerman)

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Zimmerman, Andrea 1950- (Andrea Griffing Zimmerman)


Born December 2, 1950, in Akron, OH; daughter of Leland (a business consultant) and Mignon (an auditor) Zimmerman; married David J. Clemesha (an author), 1973; children: Alex, Christian, Chase. Education: California State University, Los Angeles, B.A., 1979; University of California, Los Angeles, D.D.S., 1988. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, travel.


Home—San Diego, CA. E-mail—[email protected]


Author. Also worked as a dentist.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

Blue Ribbon selection, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 1999, "One Hundred Picture Books Everyone Should Know" citation, New York Public Library, and Notable Books for Children selection, American Library Association, 2000, all for Trashy Town; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, and Best Children's Books designation, Bank Street College of Education, both 2000, both for My Dog Toby; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2003, for Digger Man.



(As Andrea Griffing Zimmerman) Yetta the Trickster, illustrated by Harold Berson, Clarion Books (Boston, MA), 1978.

(As Andrea Griffing Zimmerman) The Riddle Zoo, illustrated by Giulio Maestro, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.


(As Andrea Griffing Zimmerman) Rattle Your Bones: Skeleton Drawing Fun, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1991.

Digger Man, Holt (New York, NY), 2003.

Fire Engine Man, Holt (New York, NY), 2007.


The Cow Buzzed, illustrated by Paul Meisel, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Trashy Town, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

My Dog Toby, illustrated by True Kelley, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry!, illustrated by Karen Barbour, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2003.

Dig!, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

Manatee Mom, illustrated by Michael-Che Swisher, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.


Andrea Zimmerman is the author of the children's books Yetta the Trickster and The Riddle Zoo. In addition, she has collaborated with her husband, author David Clemesha, on several more titles for young readers, among them Digger Man, Trashy Town, and My Dog Toby.

In Yetta the Trickster, Zimmerman's first story for children, the title protagonist enjoys playing practical jokes so much that she does not care if she is the player or the victim. Set in an eastern European village, the narrative follows Yetta through numerous pranks, including one in which the village turns the tables on the young jokester. Booklist reviewer Barbara Elleman commented that each of the book's "four short chapters … ripple with spirit and humor." Mary I. Purucker, writing in the School Library Journal, praised illustrator Harold Berson's "pen-and-ink wit and humor," and found Zimmerman's depiction of Yetta's adventures to be "human, childlike, and universal."

In The Cow Buzzed, the second Zimmerman-Clemesha collaboration, farm animals pass a cold from one creature to the next—along with each animal's signature noise. Thus the cow catches not only the bee's cold, but his buzz as well. The confusion is made worse when the farmer feeds each animal according to his/her noise, so that they all end up with the wrong food. In the end, the cold is stopped by a rabbit who covers his mouth when he sneezes, and the animals ultimately discover the origins of the illness when the bee unexpectedly roars. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called this tale "deliciously silly" with "clever new rhymes worked into each repetition of the tricky, catchy rhythm." A Publishers Weekly critic noted that "the book's humor is even more infectious than the bee's cold."

In Trashy Town the husband-and-wife team offer readers a glimpse of a day in the life of Mr. Gilly, the trashman, as he and his two rat sidekicks clean up the town's trash with the cheerful refrain: "Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town!" At the end of his day, Mr. Gilly unloads the trash at the dump, then goes home for a bath. Writing in Horn Book, Nancy Vasilakis complimented Zimmerman, Clemesha, and illustrator Dan Yaccarino for creating a "well-designed picture book that does a lot with a simple concept." Calling the narrative "an overdue salute to an unsung hero," a Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that "despite the smelly and slimy aspects of garbage collecting, Zimmerman and Clemesha make Mr. Gilly's job seem satisfying." Comparing Trashy Town to "Margaret Wise Brown's best work," Booklist critic Linda Perkins praised the book as "right on the mark for young children."

Zimmerman and Clemesha's My Dog Toby earned similarly positive reviews. In this story, a young girl is convinced of her basset hound's intelligence, despite his inability to learn tricks. Even though the girl's brother suggests that the dog might be "dumb," she perseveres and eventually teaches her pet to sit, leading her brother to agree with Toby's intelligence after all. Commenting in Booklist, Carolyn Phelan commented on "the understated humor of the text," and summarized the work as "a warm, witty picture book celebrating the mutual devotion of dogs and their owners." New York Times Book

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Review critic Adam Liptak observed that "[Zimmerman and Clemesha] infuse the story with some gentle lessons about appreciating dogs—and people—for what they are."

A group of firefighters are kept busy during mealtime in Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry!, "a joyful celebration of team work [that is] … sure to please the preschool set," noted a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Each time Captain Kelly and his animal cohorts, including a green elephant and a striped cat, sit down for dinner, they receive an urgent call to tackle a blaze. "This construction is both funny and judicious: it gives kids a sense of control over what would otherwise be chaotic," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "The repetitive text lends itself well to reading aloud," Leslie Barban noted in School Library Journal.

Dig! follows Mr. Rally, a backhoe driver, and his loyal canine companion, Lightning, during a busy day on the job. The verse narrative describes the efforts of Mr. Rally to move rocks from a bridge, create a drainage ditch, and level a plot of land. According to New York Times Book Review contributor Jess Bruder, the authors "use their familiar style and structure to explore new terrain. Sentences jounce along from one construction site to the next." Marian Creamer, writing in School Library Journal, maintained that "the pace, repetition, and word choices make the book appropriate for beginning readers." "Full of action and rhythm," wrote Booklist critic Gillian Engberg, Dig! "will delight preschoolers who dream of their own big-engine, dirt-digging adventures."

Zimmerman and Clemesha have also collaborated on a number of self-illustrated titles. While playing in his sandbox, a little boy imagines himself behind the controls of a huge digging machine handling massive construction projects in Digger Man, a "lively, sure-to-please winner," according to Andrea Tarr in School Library Journal. Ellen Mandel, writing in Booklist, applauded the "joyful acrylic illustrations and the sparse, confident text," and a Publishers Weekly reviewer also complimented the artwork, stating that in one scene Zimmerman and Clemesha "construct a characteristic spread of bold shapes in bright colors, then splendiferously splatter it with chocolate-brown acrylic paint."

In a companion volume, Fire Engine Man, a youngster shares his dream of becoming a firefighter with his infant brother as he pictures himself putting out a fire and preparing a meal for his coworkers. According to Booklist critic Shelle Rosenfeld, Zimmerman and Clemesha's story "highlights firefighter duties, safety, and a caring sibling relationship." The duo's illustrations also garnered praise. In School Library Journal Linda M. Kenton remarked that "colorful acrylic illustrations greet readers," and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews stated that "the cheery paints depict sturdy firefighters and proud engines."

Zimmerman once commented: "I enjoy making books to amuse young children. I try to place myself in the mind of a child to see the world as children do and to write about what interests them in a way they will find most entertaining. My husband, David, and I work together, inspired by our own children, our own childhoods, and the other children we meet. We are now illustrating some of our books, as well as writing them. We love the thirty-two-page format of picture books for its simplicity and wide potential."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, December 1, 1978, Barbara Elleman, review of Yetta the Trickster, p. 621; January 15, 1982, Ilene Cooper, review of The Riddle Zoo, p. 656; May 1, 1993, Ilene Cooper, review of The Cow Buzzed, p. 1606; August, 1999, Linda Perkins, review of Trashy Town, p. 2067; May 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of My Dog Toby, p. 1666; September 1, 2003, Ellen Mandel, review of Digger Man, p. 132; May 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Dig!, p. 1627; May 1, 2007, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Fire Engine Man, p. 101.

Horn Book, March, 1999, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Trashy Town, p. 204.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1993, review of The Cow Buzzed, p. 730; September 1, 2003, review of Digger Man, p. 1133; April 15, 2007, review of Fire Engine Man.

New York Times Book Review, May 14, 2000, Adam Liptak, "It's a Dog's Life," p. 29; September 19, 2004, Jess Bruder, review of Dig!

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1993, review of The Cow Buzzed, p. 84; April 26, 1999, review of Trashy Town, p. 82; May 10, 2004, review of Dig!, p. 57; September 15, 2003, review of Digger Man, p. 63.

School Library Journal, January, 1979, Mary I. Purucker, review of Yetta the Trickster, p. 49; February, 1982, Lois Kimmelman, review of The Riddle Zoo, p. 72; May, 1999, Lisa Dennis, review of Trashy Town, p. 102; May, 2000, Holly Belli, review of My Dog Toby, p. 159; April, 2003, Leslie Barban, review of Fire! Fire! Hurry! Hurry!, p. 144; December, 2003, Andrea Tarr, review of Digger Man, p. 131; July, 2004, Marian Creamer, review of Dig!, p. 90; July, 2007, Linda M. Kenton, review of Fire Engine Man, p. 88.


Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha Home Page,http://www.andreaanddavid.com (August 5, 2008).

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