Monday, June 16, 2014

If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen

If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen

Rating: 5 stars

The creativity packed in If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen is pretty incredible.  You'll be able to see it when the book is over--something crazy happens when you read it that makes me think there is some magical transference of creativity from the pages into my kids' heads.  I mean, I think that some of Van Dusen's imagination actually gets implanted into their own brains and they just…start thinking up some crazy awesome things.

It's just a simple little story, really: a boy drives along with his father and says if his father's cool, classic ride: "This car is fine, but I'd design something a whole lot cooler!"  And then…he does...
I'll work through the night to create a design--
Constantly analyze, tweak, and refine.
I'll study jet rockets and look at old planes,
Contemplate buses and zeppelins and trains.
To make it as smooth and as sleek as an eel,
I'll borrow ideas from the Wienermobile!
The boy is not joking.  He took all that into account to create one kick-ass car.  (Not that I encourage you to use the word "kick-ass" with your child while reading it, but I assure you the word will bounce into your head because the boy's car is…kick-ass!)

Try and disagree after you read this:
Now that we're cruising, let's head to the lake.
There's no need to panic or slam on the brake.
My car can do something that very few can.
The fenders will float like a catamaran!
We're skimming the waves and we're having a ball!
But wait--hold your horses, 'cause that isn't all.
Boating is fine till we get the urge 
To dive underwater…Then just hit SUBMERGE!
We'll fly over land! We'll fly over seas!
To Alaska, Nebraska, Bermuda, Belize!
What kid doesn't love the sound of that?  Van Dusen not only produces these fabulous rhymes; he also created illustrations that match the excitement in his verse.  The boy's dad's face is priceless in every picture--he is panicked in the illustration on the lake (because they're about to hit Mr. Magee and his dog Dee, who wonderfully pop up in this book), and in shock when the car later becomes a rocket. His expressions are beyond kid-friendly; they are spot-on, hilarious, and wonderful.

I read this to my kids at least a dozen times in the first few days that I got the book--and of course I got it as a birthday present for my nephew, which means we've been extra careful reading the pages but they have, in fact, been turned a whole lot.  Because, simply put: This. Book. Rocks!

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