Tag Archives: If I Built a Car

The Circus Ship

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Five miles off the coast of Maine
and slightly overdue,
a circus ship was steaming south
in fog as thick as stew.

There is something about Chris Van Dusen–I’m not sure if it is his bouncy rhymes or his bright, beautiful pictures–but the boys go wild for his books. We haven’t had this book terribly long, but it is very frequently requested and seems on track to be as popular as perpetual favorite If I Built a Car. In it, fifteen circus animals find new, much improved, homes on an island in Maine when the ship they are traveling on sinks (finding the animals on the pages is a large part of the fun).

Caveat: The inspiration for this happy story was incredibly grim; Mr. Van Dusen has completely reimagined a true story of an awful shipwreck. Therefore, I suggest saving the author’s note in the back of the book for adults.

Author: Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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This may be the perfect read-aloud chapter book.  It is terribly funny.  There are lots of pictures and they are great (nothing against Quentin Blake, but I suggest sticking with the original illustrator).  The characters are a hoot.  The candy creativity is off the charts.  The author is beautifully off his rocker.

But the best part of all is simply reading it aloud.  I had never realized how the language sings.

Author:  Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Joseph Schindelman

If I Built a Car

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Jack, from the backseat, 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.

This may be the perfect picture book.  The rhymes, cadence, and illustrations are irresistible (not for nothing did this book win the E.B. White Read Aloud Award).  Also, we all really, REALLY want Jack’s car.  (An instant snack bar?  A pool?  An impeccable safety record?  A built-in robot chauffeur?  The ability to sail, submerge, and fly?  SIGN US UP.)  This is the first book my oldest learned by heart; it is simply addictive.

Author:  Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator:  Chris Van Dusen