Tricia (Tricia Shapiro) Andryszewski (1956-)
Tricia Andryszewski has written a number of nonfiction books for children and young adults on topics related to history, current events, and the environment. In The Dust Bowl: Disaster on the Plains, she surveys the ecological conditions that set the stage for the central farming disaster of the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Friend of the Everglades, Andryszewski profiles an early environmentalist whose efforts helped save the Florida Everglades from destruction, while in Immigration: Newcomers and Their Impact on the U.S., she provides a historical overview of immigration into the United States and the various responses to it from the native population. Critics highlighted Andryszewski's tendency to rely on quotes from contemporary sources such as diaries to give insight into the human side of the events she depicts.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the plains region of the United States experienced a drought which, combined with inappropriate farming methods, turned the region into what has since been called the "dust bowl." In her account of this era in U.S. history, Andryszewski combines a discussion of the ecological and economic repercussions of the dust bowl with excerpts from the diary of a young girl. The resulting mix creates "an excellent balance" of different kinds of information, according to Roger Sutton in his review of The Dust Bowl for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Critics in general praised Andryszewski's prose as clear and informative and her approach to the issues evenhanded. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Dust Bowl "a model of concise and effective writing [on] the social, economic, and ecological history of the great agricultural tragedy of the thirties."
Like The Dust Bowl, Marjory Stoneman Douglas combines history and ecology. Douglas was a nature conservancy supporter whose efforts centered on the Everglades, the subtropical swamp area in southern Florida noted for its rich and diverse wildlife. In her review of the book for School Library Journal, Lisa Wu Stowe called Andryszewski's biography "a clear, straightforward account" of Douglas's life and work, enlivened by quotes from the subject that are sprinkled throughout the text. While the photographs were criticized for failing to effectively illustrate difficult concepts, according to Stowe, "the writing and concepts are sound."
Andryszewski takes on the controversial subject of immigration into the United States in her 1995 publication. Critics noted that Immigration offers a well-researched approach to the history of immigration in the United States and provides a concise explanation of the current immigration policy, including the use of quotas, the attitude toward illegal aliens, and the granting of political asylum to certain would-be immigrants. While School Library Journal contributor Diane S. Marton found some of Andryszewski's explanations dull, she also called Immigration a "well-researched, timely, and handy guide" which presents students with a "thoughtful, basic introduction" to its subject. Booklist reviewer April Judge stated that Andryszewski's plentiful use of quotes from immigrants rounds out the picture she paints and "provide[s] a balance that makes this both informative and readable."
In the mid-1990s, Andryszewski's writings began to focus on religion and politics. "I Have a Dream": The March on Washington, 1963 covers one of the most significant events of the civil rights era in great detail, discussing the leaders, the supporters, and the opposition. She concludes the book by drawing comparisons with the Million-Man March of 1995. Andryszewski's The Militia Movement in America: Before and after Oklahoma City was inspired by the events of the tragic Oklahoma City bombing. The book chronicles antigovernment activities and identifies major militarized groups, explaining their philosophies. Noting that Andryszewski's is one of the first books to concentrate specifically on the militia movement, Chris Sherman remarked in Booklist that it is "concise and thoroughly readable." In School Prayer: A History of the Debate, Andryszewski presents what Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman called "a careful, even handed account" of this controversial issue. She gives a detailed overview of famous court cases involving the separation of church and state, and explains to readers that the debate is not only between extreme religious groups and civil liberties activists.
In 2000, Andryszewski published three books on controversial and provocative subjects, beginning with Gay Rights. This text tracks the gay rights struggle from 1969 to the present day, highlighting important issues such as gays in the military, religious views, gay marriage, and civil-rights protection. Betty S. Evans noted in her School Library Journal review of Gay Rights that this informative book is both "balanced and straightforward." Kosovo: The Splintering of Yugoslavia opens with moving quotations from Kosovar refugees and then explains the history of the turbulent Balkan region of Eastern Europe and its people. The Reform Party: Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan contains an overview of the party's history and goals and provides biographical information about Reform Party leaders such as former World Wrestling Federation celebrity athlete Jesse Ventura. Andryszewski describes the effect the Reform Party had on the presidential elections of the 1990s and specifically discusses Perot's fight against the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Though finding the book lacking strong analysis, Mary Mueller, writing in School Library Journal, considered The Reform Party nicely objective.
Confronting another timely issue, in 2002, Andryszewski published Terrorism in America, beginning with a prologue about the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks. The book presents students with a historical overview of terrorism, including that perpetrated by U.S. groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and overseas attacks against Americans, such as the Iran hostage crisis. Andryszewski closes by offering thought-provoking questions about how to combat terrorism while still preserving civil rights.
In addition to covering historical and political issues, Andryszewski has also pursued her interest in the out-of-doors, penning both Step by Step along the Appalachian Trail and Step by Step along the Pacific Crest Trail. Intended to convey the experience of hiking each trail to kids reading at home, these volumes include trail and location maps and the geological history of the mountain ranges they cover.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 15, 1995, April Judge, review of Immigration: Newcomers and Their Impact on the U.S., p. 906; February 15, 1997, Chris Sherman, review of The Militia Movement in America: Before and after Oklahoma City, p. 1009; October 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of School Prayer: A History of the Debate, p. 321; March 1, 1999, p. 1204.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1993, Roger Sutton, review of The Dust Bowl: Disaster on the Plains, p. 276.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1993, review of The Dust Bowl, pp. 451-452.
School Library Journal, May, 1993, p. 111; September, 1994, Lisa Wu Stowe, review of Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Friend of the Everglades, p. 224; May, 1995, Diane S. Marton, review of Immigration, p. 124; June, 2000, p. 157; October, 2000, Betty S. Evans, review of Gay Rights, p. 176; January, 2001, Mary Mueller, review of The Reform Party: Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, p. 136.*
Brief BiographiesBiographies: (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) Aalto (1898–1976) Biography to Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) BiographyTricia (Tricia Shapiro) Andryszewski (1956-) Biography - Career, Sidelights - Personal, Writings, Work in Progress