Friday 17 May 2013

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 17th May 2013 - "If I Built A Car" by Chris Van Dusen (Penguin USA)

Quite often, we 'meet' books that make us want to crawl inside and live in their worlds. This week, thanks to a brilliant recommendation from Damyanti, one of our favourite book bloggers over at we've discovered the books of Chris Van Dusen so without a moment's pause we plumped for "If I Built A Car".

Several reads later, and Chris's trademark "World of Tomorrow" 1950s American idyll has completely and utterly hooked us in. I already loved the classic sleek space-age lines of American cars from the mid 20th Century, so this book felt like it belonged on our shelves even before we'd discovered it.

Young Jack is a boy with an eye for invention and a vivid imagination. One day, musing on his dad's reliable old station wagon from the back seat, Jack imagines what sort of car he would build if someone let him loose with a drawing board, a ton of polymer gel and a whole host of clever gadgetry. A dream car, a car of the future!

Jack describes to his (rather gobsmacked) dad all the features his car would have. Soft and squishy to the touch, yet tough enough to retain its shape so in an accident it would just bounce back. With the most comfortable interior, a full sized sofa, fireplace and with a flick of a switch, even a swimming pool!

A robot driver for when dad gets tired and needs a nap. And possibly the most amazing catering you've ever seen inside anything with four wheels.

A car that flies, a car that speeds over water, a car that has EVERYTHING! That's what you'd get if Jack built a car.

Chris Van Dusen's rhyming text is fine and dandy but it really is the illustrations that will knock your eyes out. Crisp, clear, beautifully painted in that 50s kitsch style - like a home living catalogue from an era we were always promised but never quite got.

If you're even remotely interested in the 1950s USA, cars or futurism, you really need to discover Chris Van Dusen's books for yourselves (we're definitely getting "If I Built A House" next, and we'll be following it up with the rest of Van Dusen's books as soon as we have a book budget again!) Start with this one though and you really won't be disappointed in the least. It's utterly blimmin marvellous!

Charlotte's best bit: The dreamy food that Jack's car can make, if you fancy a roadside snack.

Daddy's favourite bit: Beautiful painted artwork, utterly hilarious characters, atomic bomb hairstyles and the sort of car you wish people really made. A surefire hit!