Combine the aesthetics of accomplished collagist Roth (Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, reviewed Sept. 27) with a day-in-the-life tale of a female ironworker apprentice, and the result is a standout construction book. The dialogue-driven text follows Kristen (inspired by a real-life, fourth-generation New York City ironworker) through her morning as she scales the building's skeleton and takes orders for the raising gang's (or "group of ironworkers") tools and snacks ("I could use some batteries for this telephone and a big iced tea with lemon," the signal man tells her). Along the way, Kristen (and readers) learns the ropes of the 10 crew jobs. (The plumber upper, for example, shows her how to check the bubble in his level to make sure the column is "straight up and down.") Roth elucidates unfamiliar words and techniques with brief annotations set in slightly smaller type and numbered with bright yellow circles, which correspond with the technique or tool in the illustration. By creating barebones characterizations of cut-paper and cloth (Kristen herself is distilled down to a mass of blonde fiber hair, two dot eyes and a blue bump for a hard hat), Roth keeps the focus on the dramatic rise of the building and beautifully conveys what it feels like to move among the criss-crossing girders high above the city streets (represented in photomontage with images from actual Manhattan work sites). She brings alive the ironworkers' sense of community, and how they embrace anyone willing to start at the bottom and work their way up-make that way, way up. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kristen is a young woman in a job area usually full of men. She is an apprentice ironworker. Her story is her work. She takes orders from the other workers for both food and materials, climbing around the construction area and contacting the different workers. On each page under the text there are explanations of the job each worker does and of the tools and materials used, with numbered references on the illustration. When Kristen has collected the orders from connectors, hooker-on and tag-line men, signal man etc., she takes the man hoist down to the ground, leaves their orders at the deli while she collects what's needed from the gang box, and delivers to the hungry workers. On the final pages Roth shows them all at work and challenges us to name them. There is a wealth of information on the many folks who do construction and the tools they use in the text and even more in the end-note. Washed-out photomontages of the city taken from on high form backgrounds for the double-page scenes depicting the process of making the iron skeleton of a sky-scraper. Roth uses collage, fabrics and papers of all sorts, to provide the textured visuals that depict the various specialized tasks of the workers. She also provokes smiles from the end-papers with their graffiti on fences and posted signs. There's a light-hearted atmosphere created which tends to belie the fundamental danger of the work. 2004, Bloomsbury Children's Books, Ages 5 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Gr 1-4-Kristen, an apprentice at a big building site, is responsible for checking with the ironworkers and bringing them snacks and tools. One by one, the specialized workers make their requests. For example, the connectors need another pail of connecting bolts and the hooker-on needs a choker cable. On each spread, numbered footnotes in small print describe objects mentioned in the text or shown in the illustrations. Although the plot is thin and the writing is somewhat dry, Roth presents a plethora of construction jargon. The last spread asks readers to identify the titles of the 12 ironworkers mentioned in the narrative; the answers are appended. The paper-collage illustrations are bold and busy with signs, city backgrounds, and iron beams. They clearly show the organized chaos of a building site. This unique look at construction trades may be useful for units on careers or community helpers.-Linda Staskus, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kids who are intrigued by construction sites and equipment will find this unusually structured book a solid hit. Focusing on ironworkers and their particular jobs and tools, the text follows Kristen, an apprentice ironworker, as she works high up on a skyscraper construction site, taking orders for needed supplies and snacks and beverages. Each spread shows a different kind of worker on the job with the addition of several numbers in yellow circles. These numbered items are defined in corresponding lists within the text blocks, explaining many of the tools, jobs, and safety requirements. Roth's stunning collage illustrations include real denim and cork for the worker's clothes and intriguing montages of city buildings spread out far below the workers. The final spread shows all the workers on the job and invites the reader to identify each previously described worker by his or her particular skill. An author's note includes additional information about ironworkers and explains that all ironworker apprentices start out in a similar way. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-8)