Author Spotlight: Chris Van Dusen

“Jack, from the back seat, said to his dad, This car is OK. This car is not bad. But it’s just a car.  Nothing great. Nothing grand.  It’s nothing at all like the car I have planned” – Chris Van Dusen, If I Build a Car

If I built a.... by Chris Van Dusen

Chris Van Dusen is my favorite children’s book author.  I know I am not supposed to have favorites but, I cannot help myself!!! I received “If I Built a Car” as a gift when my oldest son was 5 and it opened up a new world in the land of books for our family.  We love Dr. Seuss. There are not many authors who write in a similar style with such brilliant rhythm and rhyme.

If I Built a Car is the book that started it all, so to speak.  This book looks at what amazing things a car could do if there was a child designing it.  The car can do everything from drive itself to fly and turn into a submarine.  The pictures and words are great.  We have definitely read this book at least a hundred times and it never gets old.

“Just turn off the switch and you’ll float off the ground, then flap like a bird and fly all around. Isn’t it nice to be up in the air? A room without gravity – that’s pretty rare!” – Chris Van Dusen, If I Build a House

If I Built House Craft

If I Built a House is an adorable gander into what a house would look like if left to the imagination of a child.  Inspired by the book, my daughter started with a hot glue gun along with a kleenex box, pompoms, stickers  and a few other house hold crafts and got to work to create a “masterpiece”.  It was so easy and so much fun to let this imaginative book inspire us! While we could not build an antigravity room like in the book, it was fun to create with no rules.

“And from that day they like to say their lives were free of “Paine.” It was a happy, peaceful place upon that isle in Maine.” – Chris Van Dusen, Circus Ship

Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

Circus Ship is based on the story of a ship filled with animals that sunk near Maine.  Locals sighted animals for years even though they didn’t officially find  animal survivors.  This adorable story has a much better outcome for the animals – and not so much for the cruel owner of the circus.  I have read this book to a class of 8 and 9 year olds and kept their undivided attention. The result? This book is a favorite read aloud.

Mr. Van Dusen has too many great books to mention them all but the Mr. Macgee series is hilarious and Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit is perfect for the sports enthusiast/braniac in all of us. Chris Van Dusen will be visiting the Ludington Library on May 18th, 2017 at 4:00 pm!!! He has a new book: Hattie and Hudson and I can’t wait to get a hold of it.

What is your favorite children’s author?
Author Spotlight: Chris Van DusenIf I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
Published by Penguin on May 5th 2005
Genres: Young Adult, Transportation, Cars & Trucks
Pages: 40
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If I built a car, it'd be totally new!

Here are a few of the things that I'd do. . . .

Young Jack is giving an eye-opening tour of the car he'd like to build. There's a snack bar, a pool, and even a robot named Robert to act as chauffeur. With Jack's soaring imagination in the driver's seat, we're deep-sea diving one minute and flying high above traffic the next in this whimsical, tantalizing take on the car of the future. Illustrations packed with witty detail, bright colors, and chrome recall the fabulous fifties and an era of classic American automobiles. Infectious rhythm and clever invention make this wonderful read-aloud a launch pad for imaginative fun.

Author Spotlight: Chris Van DusenIf I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen
Published by Penguin on October 25th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Imagination & Play, Science Fiction, Art & Architecture
Pages: 32
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The much-anticipated follow-up to the E. B. White Award-winning picture book If I Built a Car

In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he's back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack's limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.

Chris Van Dusen's vibrant illustrations marry retro appeal with futuristic style as he, once again, gives readers a delightfully rhyming text that absolutely begs to be read aloud.

Author Spotlight: Chris Van DusenThe Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen
Published by Candlewick Press on April 15th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Survival Stories, Historical, United States, 19th Century, Humorous Stories
Pages: 40

When a circus ship runs aground off the coast of Maine, the poor animals are left on their own to swim the chilly waters. Staggering onto a nearby island, they soon win over the wary townspeople with their kind, courageous ways. So well do the critters blend in that when the greedy circus owner returns to claim them, villagers of all species conspire to outsmart the bloated blowhard. With buoyant rhymes and brilliantly caricatured illustrations evoking the early nineteenth century, Chris Van Dusen presents a hugely entertaining tale about the bonds of community — and a rare hidden-pictures spread for eagle-eyed readers of all ages.