Monday, May 18, 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 15 - "If I Built a House / If I Built a Car" by Chris Van Dusen (Picture Penguin)

Our next #Booky100Keepers books once again show off some truly stunning art, with a kitschy vibe that harks back to the "Golden Age" of 1950s America, and the glorious visions of the future that were shown off at various Worlds Fairs.

Chris Van Dusen's "If I Built a House" showcases the imagination of a brilliant kid who dreams up and draws his perfect house.

It's an absolutely amazing place with an automated kitchen (which serves up the most delicious looking food you've ever seen in a children's book - those crinkly fries and pizzas are enough to make your stomach grumble), a bouncy living room with built in trampolines - but the best is saved till later when the kid reveals his flying room, a vast aquarium and a truly stunning racetrack room.

The book bounces along in rhyme and though some of the rhymes do feel a bit 'forced' (using the phrase "well that's something new" a few too many times) you don't really notice purely because this is an absolute feast for the eyeballs and you're left at the end wishing you had the money to build a place like that.

Similariy, the kid applies his imagination to his dad's old clunker of a station wagon in "If I Built a Car" - dreaming up a mode of transport quite unlike anything you've ever seen before.

A gigantic road monster, again complete with its own robotic food conveyor (again Chris Van Dusen really manages to make your tummy rumble), an automated pilot (long before the days of driver automation became mainstream) and the ability to fly and go underwater.

It's enough to make James Bond weep with envy.

Both books are utterly brilliant, packed with amazing illustrative details and the sort of art work you'd happily pin on your wall (and his characters are just as much fun as his weird inventions). A glimpse of the future like this? Oh we'd buy that for a dollar!

Original Review Links:

"If I Built a House" by Chris Van Dusen (Chronicle)

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

1 comment :

  1. I so agree with your choice of these two books. Such fun and so many details to consider. I read them both to some kids I see as a volunteer in a local school. These kids are in Grade 4 and have some difficulties with reading but both of these really captured their attention and imaginations. It was a joy to see their delight and enthusiasm as they discovered more and more of the quirky details. I am enjoying your 100 list.


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