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If I Built a Car

If I Built a Car

5.0 1
by Chris Van Dusen, Chris

Jack describes the kind of car he would build, one with amazing accessories and with the capability of traveling on land, in the air, and on and under the sea.


Jack describes the kind of car he would build, one with amazing accessories and with the capability of traveling on land, in the air, and on and under the sea.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rhyming couplets and illustrations in colors as shiny and sleek as the four wheels they celebrate present the musings of a boy growing up in the placid 1950s suburbs. As Jack, his father and the family dog drive by trim lawns and plastic pink flamingos in a red, wood-panelled station wagon (that "is OK," according to Jack, "Nothing great. Nothing grand"), the young hero regales his staid-looking father with a description of the car of his dreams. Next, Jack lies on a shag rug in his bedroom, an issue of Popular Science on the bedside table, as he studies his toy Wienermobile, the inspiration for his own "spectacular car"-which, on the subsequent spread, seems to magically appear in the driveway. From there, the story takes off: Jack gives his amazed father and eager pooch a tour of his vehicle, showing off the "flush fender skirts and retractable wings," enclosed fireplace, swimming pool and snack-bar, and introduces the automated driver, Robert the Robot. The boy then takes his dad for a ride through the neighborhood and onto the lake ("The fenders will float like a catamaran") and underwater ("Just hit submerge!") before heading back to town, where a crowd of neighbors applauds. The finale returns readers to the opening scene, where a smiling Jack proudly tells his father, "If I built a car, that's just what I'd do." Energetic verse and jubilant, action-packed artwork make this tale of a young inventor's fantastic daydream a joy ride. Ages 3-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What boy would not like to design and build his fantasy car? In this title, Jack does just that after sitting in the backseat of his father's automobile. The illustrations—inspired by the fifties—make a wonderful backdrop to the text. Boys and girls alike will personally connect to Jack's imagination and inspiration in designing the ideal car. Not only will this automobile be made for American roads, but for water, under-water, and in-the-sky adventures. Other imaginative amenities that Jack includes in his car are a fireplace, fish tank, instant snack bar, fresh aromas, and—instead of cruise control—a robot to do the driving for you. Safety is not forgotten when Jack proposes the use of "polymer gel" to act as a cushion absorber for any dents and to add to the comfort of passengers. This cleverly entertaining book makes a great read aloud due to the rhyming couplets on each page. Children could always supplement Jack's imaginative designs or create their own new design of an automobile after reading this book. 2005, Dutton Children's Books, Ages 3 to 8.
—Rosa Roberts
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-With descriptions and a rhyme scheme clearly inspired by Dr. Seuss, a little boy relates all of the wonderful things about the car he plans to design, including safety features, a pool, a robot driver, and the ability to go underwater and fly through the air. The rhyme scheme works well enough, although at times the rhythm falters. The artwork is the real draw here. The brightly colored, crisp, cartoon-style illustrations, reminiscent of the Jetsons, are likely to keep viewers' attention. The full-bleed pictures are animated and detailed, and the boy's dog, which appears in each picture, ties the images together nicely. This slight story may attract young fans of vehicles, but readers looking for a plot will be disappointed in what is essentially an extensive laundry list of the automobile's attributes.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Chris Van Dusen lives in Camden, Maine.

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If I Built a Car 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of Mr. Van Dusen's books are fantastic, but this one is still my favorite. I give this book as a gift at every baby shower for a boy and everyone loves it.