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Ann Hassett (1958–) Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

review cat tree book

Born 1958, in Quincy, MA; married John Hassett (a writer and illustrator).

Career

Author and illustrator of children's books.

Honors Awards

Blue Ribbon Award, and Booklist Editors' Choice designation, both 1998, and Parents' Choice Foundation Picture Book Recommendation, 1999, all for Cat up a Tree; Virginia Young Readers Primary Book Award, 2000–05, for The Three Silly Girls Grubb.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN; WITH HUSBAND, JOHN HASSETT

Moose on the Loose, Down East Books (Camden, ME), 1987.

Junior: A Little Loon Tale, illustrated by John Hassett, Down East Books (Camden, ME), 1993.

(And illustrator with John Hassett) We Got My Brother at the Zoo, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1993.

(And illustrator with John Hassett) Charles of the Wild, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1997.

Cat up a Tree, illustrated by John Hassett, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1998.

Father Sun, Mother Moon, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2001.

The Three Silly Girls Grubb, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2002.

Mouse in the House, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2004.

The Finest Christmas Tree, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2005.

Author's works have been translated into Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Sidelights

Ann Hassett has collaborated with her husband, John Hassett, to write and illustrate a number of stories for children. In 1987, the husband-and-wife team published Moose on the Loose; six years later they released two other children's books: Junior: A Little Loon Tale and We Got My Brother at the Zoo. According to Anna Biagioni Hart in a School Library Journal review, "families with a new baby will appreciate" We Got My Brother at the Zoo, which tells of Mary Margaret Morrison's frustration at her brother's entrance into the family. In Junior the Hassetts spin an environmentally minded story that finds Junior Loon hatching while Mother and Father Loon are away from the nest. The young bird wanders off through the polluted wetland while his parents search for him, in a book that contains ample amounts "witticisms and wordplay," according to Diane Nunn in a School Library Journal review.

Critics have been increasingly impressed with the Hassetts' more recent works, such as Charles of the Wild and Cat up a Tree. A "pampered, moody little house dog" is the central character in Charles of the Wild, a children's tale with an "old-fashioned tone," according to Booklist contributor Linda Perkins. In what a Kirkus Reviews writer described as an "engaging and very doggy story," the Hassetts tell a story about a boy named Charles who seeks out solo adventure in the wilds of Boston. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the picture book, asserting that "in this wry tale…. the Hassetts … provide absurdly tasteful scenarios." The "best" feature of the story, according to Sally R. Dow in a review for School Library Journal, "is its droll, whimsically detailed illustrations."

In Cat up a Tree Nana watches as cat after cat gets stuck after climbing up a nearby tree. Nana calls the fire sta-
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tion, police station, and city hall for assistance in freeing the treebound cats, but all refuse to give any help. Finally, an onslaught of mice invade the city, giving the cats a reason to come to ground. According to Booklist critic Ilene Cooper, Cat up a Tree is a "very funny book" that is "as much fun for the reader as the listener." New York Times Book Review contributor Jen Nessel also praised the work as "funny and whimsical and engaging," noting that the illustrations, with "little visual details like satellite dishes and mice on window-sills," will continue to intrigue repeat browsers.

Nana returns in Mouse in the House. In this tale, Nana and her family have moved into an old house where she soon finds a mouse in the kitchen. She asks Father to get rid of the mouse, and he calls the pet store for an owl. The owl scares the mouse away but causes its own problems; a dog is brought in to scare the owl away. When the dog becomes a problem, an alligator is brought in. Things escalate in humorous fashion until the family has an elephant brought in, and are then forced to bring back the original mouse in order to frighten the giant creature. Linda Staskus, writing in School Library Journal, wrote that the book's "light-hearted illustrations increase the silliness and enjoyment of the story." Kitty Flynn, writing in Horn Book, praised the "delightfully offbeat" nature of the tale and cited in particular the book's "humorously detailed pictures."

In Father Sun, Mother Moon the residents of a small village are convinced that all the houses in town must be painted white or their children will become fools. When lightning strikes the school, the building turns gray, putting the villagers in a panic because they think their children are in danger. Then a strange woman arrives in the village, dressed in wild colors, and promises to paint the school white again. Next morning, the village people discover that the strange woman has indeed painted the school, but she has tricked them by painting it yellow. Writing in the School Library Journal, Ellen A. Greever found that the Hassetts' "expressionistic illustrations are humorous in tone," and José Padua noted in the New York Times that Father Sun, Mother Moon boasts "lively illustrations and … simple but eloquent writing."

The Hassetts' The Three Silly Girls Grubb is a retelling of the traditional story that features three sisters and a bully named Ugly-Boy Bobby. When the sisters—who are described as small, medium, and extra large—go to school one morning, they must cross a bridge where Ugly-Boy Bobby hides. He demands the packed lunch from each girl in turn, but each sister responds by telling the greedy bully to ask the next-largest sister because she is larger and has more doughnuts in her lunch bag. When Ugly-Boy Bobby confronts the largest of the three sisters, the girl agrees to share her lunch with him, but at a cost: he must be willing to be kissed a dozen times for every doughnut he takes from her lunch bag. "The storytelling is lively, highlighted by growling threats and clever tricks," Lauren Peterson wrote in Booklist, while Martha Topol noted in a School Library Journal review that The Three Silly Girls Grubb is enlivened by "weird and rollicking illustrations." According to a critic for Publishers Weekly, the Hassetts' new take on an old tale has a "zippy sense of fun."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 1997, Linda Perkins, review of Charles of the Wild, p. 1337; October 15, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Cat up a Tree, p. 417; January 1, 1999, review of Cat up a Tree, p. 784; September 15, 2002, Lauren Peterson, review of The Three Silly Girls Grubb, p. 236; April 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Mouse in the House, p. 1441.

Horn Book, September-October, 2002, Christine M. Heppermann, review of The Three Silly Girls Grubb, p. 588; May-June, 2004, Kitty Flynn, review of Mouse in the House, p. 314; November-December, 2004, Barbara Bader, "The Difference Words Make."

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1997, review of Charles of the Wild; August 1, 2002, review of The Three Silly Girls Grubb, p. 1131; February 15, 2004, review of Mouse in the House, p. 179.

New York Times, November 18, 2001, José Padua, review of Father Sun, Mother Moon, p. 52.

New York Times Book Review, November 15, 1998, Jen Nessel, review of Cat up a Tree, p. 48.

Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1993, review of We Got My Brother at the Zoo, p. 132; November 8, 1993, review of Junior: A Little Loon Tale, p. 76; February 10, 1997, review of Charles of the Wild, p. 83; September 7, 1998, review of Cat up a Tree, p. 93; August 19, 2002, review of The Three Silly Girls Grubb, p. 89; June 9, 2003, review of Cat up a Tree, p. 54.

School Library Journal, December, 1993, Anna Biagloni Hart, review of We Got My Brother at the Zoo, p. 89; March, 1994, Diane Nunn, review of Junior, p. 198; May, 1997, Sally R. Dow, review of Charles of the Wild, p. 99; October, 1998, p. 100; June, 2001, Ellen A. Greever, review of Father Sun, Mother Moon, p. 117; November, 2002, Martha Topol, review of The Three Silly Girls Grubb, p. 144; March, 2004, Linda Staskus, review of Mouse in the House, p. 170.

U.S. News and World Report, April, 2004, Vicky Hallett, review of Mouse in the House.

ONLINE

Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter, http://www.carolhurst.com/ (October, 2000), review of Cat up a Tree.

Hassett Books Web site, http://www.hassettbooks.com (May 5, 2005).

MainelyKids.com, http://www.mainelykids.com/ (February 22, 2005), Kirsten Cappy, review of Cat up a Tree.

John Hassett Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights [next] [back] Nicholas (Paul) Hasluck Biography

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