Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper
Anastasia Suen, author
Anastasia Suen is the author of dozens of books for young readers, including Subway (Viking) and Red Light, Green Light (Harcourt). She lives in Northern California.
Read more about Anastasia Suen.
Ryan O'Rourke, illustrator
Ryan O'Rourke has a talent for drawing machinery for young children. He has illustrated picture books about trains (Alphabet Trains), trucks (Alphabet Trucks), and spacecraft (Eight Days Gone), as well as many other topics. He is also the author and illustrator of Bella Lost and Found (HarperCollins).
Read more about Ryan O'Rourke.
Lucky kids don hard hats to witness the construction behind the fence. A supervisor explains the building process step by step, in both verse and longer paragraphs. First, a drilling rig digs a long thin trench around the entire site. Bars of steel go into the trench to form the bones of the new skyscraper. Next comes the concrete. "Pour, pour, pour! / Wet concrete / A line of mixers / Along the street," reads the verse. In smaller type, the text explains, "It takes a lot of concrete to fill a trench. After one mixer empties out, the next one moves up so we can keep pouring." More digging clears the earth inside. Suen carefully uses appropriate terminology in the prose portions. Under the dirt that remains is solid rock called bedrock. Long concrete piles are pounded into this bedrock to steady the building. The foundation consists of concrete poured over a rebar frame. Spread by spread, the building goes up as the multiracial crew works and multiracial kids look on. Finally, the kids stand on the street staring up at the new skyscraper, and the last page of the book unfolds up to reveal it. Suen's rhymes will feel a little babyish to all but the youngest construction aficionados. Her plain text works better with O'Rourke's Adobe Photoshop illustrations, multiple important components of each neatly labeled. Crisply informative.
School Library Journal
From the concrete foundation to the final spire, this nonfiction picture book shows young audiences the basics of building the exterior of a skyscraper. Each spread depicts one step in the process, from digging the initial trench and pit to installing rebar and concrete to building floors skyward with beams and glass. A small inset box included on each spread provides a cutaway view of the skyscraper’s gradual progress. Two separate blocks of text describe each stage of construction, one with a simple rhyme for reading aloud and the other providing a sentence or two of descriptive prose. O’Rourke’s digital illustrations have a charming cartoon quality yet successfully depict tools and machines with detail and accuracy. Additionally, a green wall along the top of the construction site acts as a reference point as the building progresses, and color-coding between the inset box and the larger illustration makes it easy to pick out each of the key elements, from gray concrete piles to orange beams. Labels abound for those curious about the different parts of a cement mixer or the names of the various large vehicles digging, drilling, and hauling. The diverse cast of male and female construction workers all wear hard hats, safety goggles, and vests, and safety netting and harnesses are frequently pictured. VERDICT An illuminating primer on a perennially favorite topic that will please budding engineers and construction fanatics.
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
Reading Informational. Grade K. Standards 1-8, 10.
Reading Informational. Grade 1. Standards 1-4, 6-8, 10