cover image The Many Troubles of Andy Russell

The Many Troubles of Andy Russell

David A. Adler. Harcourt Children's Books, $14 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201295-3

Seven of Andy's gerbils have escaped from their cage at home (and his mother hates animals). At school, preoccupied with thoughts of his pets on the loose, the boy offers ""China"" as the solution to a math problem. And just when he's about to ask his parents if his friend Tamika (whose foster parents are moving away for a year) can come live with the Russell family, he learns that his mother is pregnant. Such are the woes of Andy Russell, whom Adler (author of the Cam Jansen books) introduces in this jaunty novel, the first of a series. Displaying a knack for creating credible characters and amusing dialogue, Adler shapes a cast that youngsters will want to follow up on in future tales. Among them are Tamika, whose birth parents are recovering from a serious car accident; and earnest Bruce, Andy's best friend. Other personalities with potential are Rachel, Andy's snippy older sister, who condescendingly refers to his pets as ""mice""; and Stacy Ann, the class brown-noser who corrects Andy's wrong answers ""in her best I-know-and-you-don't tone."" Though the hero manages to solve his problems this time, it won't be long before he next hits hot water. Readers will likely be standing by when he does. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)