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Anastasia Suen - Sidelights

review book raise roof

Educator and writer Anastasia Suen is the author of numerous children's books that range from toddler board books to elementary-grade readers to nonfiction. Her titles, which include the picture books Subway, Window Music, and Raise the Roof!, often feature rhyming texts, while interesting facts are explored in nonfiction books such as The Red Cross, from the "Helping Organizations" series, and and The Story of Baseball, one of several titles in the "Sports History" series. Reviewing the "Sports History" series, Booklist contributor John Peters maintained that Suen's choice of "popular topics and [the] inviting look of this series may tempt reluctant or below-grade-level readers to give it a try."


Praising Suen's simple, rhyming text in Subway, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "turns city life into one big happy hub-bub" in her description of a young girl's ride downtown. Margaret R. Tassia was equally enthusiastic in her School Library Journal review, noting that the book's rhyming text "captures the feel of her journey and a repeated refrain invites readers to participate" in the storytelling process. Window Music, which focuses on the view of the world as seen from the window of a fast-moving trains, was described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as a "magical excursion" that features a rhythmic text reminiscent of "music with several movements."With illustrations by Elwood H. Smith, Suen's picture book Raise the Roof! follows a man, a woman, and the loyal family dog as the trio go about the task of building their own house. From pouring the concrete—with the family pooch operating the concrete mixer—to sawing, hammering, measuring, and plumbing, the book follows the home-building process from start to finish. Praising Suen's "concise, catchy verse," as well as Smith's "retro-cartoon style" illustrations, Horn Book reviewer Lauren Adams cited the book for its "fresh charm and . . . easy sense of humor." Although a Publishers Weekly critic was less enthusiastic, dubbing the book "cheery but tepid," in Kirkus Reviews a critic commented suggested that Raise the Roof! be shared with "emergent readers to give them deeper appreciation for what goes into putting up those walls."


Suen's The Clubhouse, a book included in Viking's "Easy-to-Read" series, adapts characters created by late author Ezra Jack Keats, including a young boy named Peter who lives in an inner-city neighborhood. One day Peter and his friends stumble upon an old pile of wood in a vacant lot and decide that it has potential to become a clubhouse. Other books in the series includes Loose Tooth, which finds Peter hoping his loose tooth won't fall out until after his class picture is taken, while the neighborhood gang tracks down a classroom pet on the lam in Hamster Chase. In Booklist Sally R. Dow praised the series as "action-packed" while Laura Scott described Loose Tooth as a "satisfying" story that "celebrates friendship."


Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November, 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Man on the Moon, p. 477; September 1, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Delivery, p. 144; June 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Air Show, p. 1886; April 15, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of The Clubhouse, p. 1409; May 15, 2002, John Peters, review of The Story of Baseball, p. 1598; June 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of The Red Cross, p. 1728; February 15, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Raise the Roof!, p. 1077; February 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Subway, p. 982; April 1, 2004, Isabel Schon, review of Historia de los Deportes, p. 1376.

Horn Book, March-April, 2003, Lauren Adams, review of Raise the Roof!, p. 206.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of Raise the Roof!, p. 1857; January 15, 2004, review of Subway, p. 89.

Publishers Weekly, November, 10, 1997, review of Man on the Moon, p. 73; September, 21, 1998, review of Window Music, p. 83; September 13, 1999, review of Delivery, p. 82; November 6, 2000, review of A, B, C, Easy as 1, 2, 3, p. 93; December 16, 2002, review of Raise the Roof!, p. 65; February 2, 2004, review of Subway, p. 75.

School Library Journal, January, 2001, JoAnn Jonas, review of Toddler Two, p. 110; March, 2001, Sally R. Dow, review of Willie's Birthday, p. 220; April, 2001, Lisa Smith, review of Hamster Chase, p. 123; March, 2002, Blair Christolon, review of The Story of Soccer, p. 222; March, 2002, Kathleen Simonetta, review of Habitat for Humanity, p. 222; April, 2002, Elizabeth Stumph, review of ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, p. 141; April, 2002, Laura Scott, review of Loose Tooth, p. 124; August, 2002, Holly T. Sneeringer, review of The Clubhouse, p. 170; February, 2003, Lisa Dennis, review of Raise the Roof!, p. 123; February, 2004, Margaret R. Tassia, review of Subway, p. 124.


ONLINE

Anastasia Suen Web site, http://www.asuen.com (February 14, 2005).

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