Saturday, October 22, 2011

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen

Copyright  ©2005 by Chris Van Dusen
The story opens with young Jack sitting in the back seat of his father’s station wagon.  Jack makes it clear that he is underwhelmed by his father’ s vehicle:  “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.”  Jack then begins to describe in detail the features of said planned car: the exterior is made of a polymer gel so that the car can’t be dented in a collision; there are fender skirts, retractable wings, giant fins like the Cadillacs of old. This car is a kid’s dream, heck it’s my dream. It has a fireplace, fish tank, pool and an instant snack bar.

And that’s not all. It floats; it dives under water by pushing a “submerge”  button; it flies.  The best feature is a robot chauffeur for when you become too exhausted to drive.

If I Built a Car is incredibly fun and engaging. I purchased it over 2 years ago for my boys who were then 4 and 2 and it still remains in their  top 10 list of favorite books and read at least once a week. The story is told in  rhyme which makes it quite enjoyable to read aloud.  The illustrations are  vivid and cartoon like straight from the 1950’s.  Van Dusen put an astounding amount of detail in this book. The front end papers indicate some of the early design ideas for the car that were rejected by Jack. The back end papers show the blueprint for the final car.   Kids will pour over the illustrations because there is so much to uncover. Pay special attention to the page of Jack in his room and you will discover  the inspirations for  some of his ideas. This book  will unleash your child’s imagination, especially if after a reading you pose the question, "so what kind of car would you build?" Chris Van Dusen is a very talented author and illustrator and we own all of his books. I will showcase more of his titles  in the future because they are all  thoroughly enjoyed in our home.


  1. I love this book. My favorite part is he is able to get a burger, fries and drink from the special compartment in the car. When is this going to happen in REAL LIFE. If my start trek calculations are correct it should have happened by now. :)

  2. I know. I loved the Jetsons when I was a kid in the 70s. That was almost 40 years ago we should have flying cars and jet packs by now:-)