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If I Built a Car
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If I Built a Car (If I Built ...)

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  1,700 Ratings  ·  231 Reviews
?If i built a car, it?d be totally new! Here are a few of the things that i?d do. . . .? Jack has designed the ultimate fantasy car. inspired by zeppelins and trains, Cadillacs and old planes, with brilliant colors and lots of shiny chrome, this far-out vision is ready to cruise! there?s a fireplace, a pool, and even a snack bar! After a tour of the ritzy interior, robert ...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published June 14th 2007 by Puffin Books (first published May 5th 2005)
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Jan 29, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Personal response: I thought this was such a fun book. It reminded me a lot of the movie Meet the Robinsons, so it was fun to make that connection. The first time I read it, I thought it was just about futuristic cars. With more read throughs I realized that it is set in the 1950s or 1960s and I thought that was a really neat perspective.

1. Enjoyment/Enrichment
-Simply put, kids will like this book. I think boys will especially like it, but I can see a lot of girls loving it too. If I u
An all time favorite! Van Dusen writes the most amazing books. My son has loved robots and all things mechanical since he was a toddler so this particular book was a perfect fit for him.

As a parent I appreciate the authors frequent use of multisyllabic words. I have often found that my son is full of questions when we finish books by this author. Sometimes we close the book and get right on the internet to look up some of the things described in the book. Catamarans for instance.

Van Dusen manag
Becky B
A kid with a fantastic imagination describes to his dad his dream car.

With rhymes and imagination worthy of Dr. Seuss, this is fantastic! I wish I'd found Van Dusen's books sooner! I am glad I read Mr. Magee first of his books he did by himself since Mr. Magee and his dog Dee seem to make a guest appearance in every other book of Van Dusen's (so far I've found them in Circus Ship, this book, and If I Built a House). A delightfully fun book that imagines the perfect car. Keep the imagination goin
Sydney Funk
Sep 14, 2016 Sydney Funk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-summaries
• If I Built a Car is a creative story about how a young boy named Jack designed a car. He has many creative ideas and draws inspiration from from Cadillac’s, Zeppelins and the Weiner-mobile. He added things like a pool and a snack bar. This creative car surprises Jack’s father and makes for a wonderful read.
• Grades K-3
• This would be a great book to have students design their own car. First they can draw a blue print then they can built their car out of materials provided by the teacher.
• In
CH_Emily Scholnik
Feb 27, 2010 CH_Emily Scholnik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Winner of the 2006 E.B. White Read Aloud Award. Publishers Weekly says, "Energetic verse and jubilant, action-packed artwork make this tale of a young inventor's fantastic daydream a joy ride."
Suited for grades 2nd through 5th.
Young Jack has designed the ultimate fantasy car, inspired by trains, planes, and old Cadillacs. Pack full of amenties such as a snack bar, a pool and a fireplace and upgrades with shiny chrome, this futuristic car is out of this world. It even comes complete with a driver
Audience: Primary

Genre: Fantasy

Pre-Reading Strategy: This book has some complex vocabulary in it that I would want to preview with students before we read. I would use an open word sort, asking students organize the words into groups based on how they think they're related. After students have grouped their words, ask them to share their groupings as a class and their guess about what the book will be about. After each group guesses work through defining any words that remain unknown together. T
Gina Pecoraro
Format: Picture Book
Award: E.B. White Read Aloud
Interest Level: K-2

Jack explains to his dad what type of care he would build if he had the chance. Jack's imagination creates a "spectacular" car.

This is a great book to read aloud to students. The pictrues are very bright and colorful. It's a good example of what we could do with our imaginations. After reading this book in the classroom, you could have students design their own car. The students will have fun with this activity.
Dec 08, 2008 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun book! The illustrations are amazing, so colorful and bright, and retro. They remind me of a 1950's diner. The rhythm of the rhyme was spot on, too. A bit like reading a Dr. Seuss book. The children I read this to really got into it and just loved the car and all the cool things it could do. It branched off into discussions of our own imaginations and how anything is possible if we first dream and then do. This is how our voting stacked up: Really liked=207, Just okay=8, Didn't like ...more
This story won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. It is a science fiction tale told in rhyme about a boy designing his dream car. Plans include things that kids and adults alike wish would be part of car designs like a polymer gel so your car won't dent and a snack bar. It even come with a robot driver and a swimming pool. Great pictures and fun story for young kids pre-school to 3rd grade. This would be a great story to have students respond to by having them invent their own car with special fea ...more
Ashley Sparks
Apr 23, 2010 Ashley Sparks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I loved this book! It reminded me sooo much of Dr. Williams and his architectural tendencies. This is the tale of a little boy who tells his dad how he would design a car if he built a car. The child's creativity and imagination remind me just how interesting children are. The story ends with the boy in his room drawing designs for his car. It was inspiring to me and reminded me of how we need to encourage children to pursue their dreams.
Mar 16, 2010 Lauma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
Move over Dr. Seuss...Chris Van Dusen is the new master at imaginative storytelling in rhyme with fantastic illustrations to match! Colorful, contemporary artwork captures our imaginations as a young boy reveals his ideas for a spectacular car of the future.

Recommended for grades KG - 2. Great book for read aloud and class discussions on creativity inspiring invention.
Courtney Lawson
Jan 12, 2016 Courtney Lawson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-class-books
This book was a humorous story with enriching vocabulary, and uses descriptive language throughout the story. With nice illustrations and descriptive language this book keeps children's attention and helps foster a young child's imagination.
Jan 13, 2013 Lorna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picturebooks
A terrific rhyming picture book that is great fun to read aloud. Jack imagines his perfect car which is a mix of the clever, safe, and wildly imaginative. It also throws in great vocabulary words to talk about, including words like analyze, refine, reveal, and retractable.
The boys like this one, and it captures girls too. What kind of super neat car would you build if you could? (complete with swimming pool and snack bar, a car which can also be a submarine etc.)
Oct 02, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kiddos, chase
Every time we read this book our son talks about how he would build a car. Even randomly throughout the week he will mention this... this book definitely stirs a child's Imagination!
Sep 28, 2009 Miekka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: seths-books
We really enjoyed this book. The rhymes are great, the imagination is outstanding and it involves coming up with a great invention. It was right up my boy's alley. Ages 3 and up.
Margaret Burton
Excellent descriptive vocabulary, helps to foster your imagination. Nice use of rhyming words. Keeps listeners involved.
Amelia Turvey
Mar 23, 2017 Amelia Turvey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Van Dusen, C. (2005). If I built a car. New York, NY: Dutton Books for Young Reader.

In this book Jack gives a tour of his dream car that he would build. There are man enjoyable things about this car that children would love. But then it comes back to reality, and he's sitting in the back of his dad's car.

Chris Van Dusen used the media of print to illustrate this book.

This book would support kids to have an imagination. I enjoyed this book as an adult and I can imagine how much children would en
May 14, 2017 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Riding in the back seat of an old car makes Jack dream of the car he would build. He makes the plans...a futuristic car with everything that you can imagine inside. Then it flashes back to him in the back seat...yep, that is what he would build alright. A more advanced picture book with "larger" words and "out of the ordinary" words. Might have to help the kids with this one if you are not reading it to them already.
This is where invention starts...with the dreamers!
A little boy describes his dream car to his dad, and imagines all the features of this classy, retro-futuristic, car. Guest appearance by Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee
May 09, 2017 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack comes up with the most awesome plan for a car. I definitely want this kid's car. This is a great read aloud. It's so fun. It has wonderfully engaging text, great pictures, and the story is so creative that I can't wait to read this to my storytimers tomorrow!
Mrs. Carey
Mar 05, 2017 Mrs. Carey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jkes-library
This is another book that supports the Makerspace and STEAM movement where students build and create their own cars after reading this book.
Allie Reitzell
Feb 26, 2017 Allie Reitzell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book includes spectacular idea from a little boy who wants to build a car. It can teach children to use their imagination.
Danielle Foster
Sep 18, 2016 Danielle Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: el230
I really enjoyed reading this book. The amount of imagination shown by the young boy in the story could really get the imaginations of any young children turning. The book had great ideas and a well thought out plan. The rhyming also would make it a fun read a loud for children. Kids would also really enjoy looking at the cartoon like pictures included. Overall this book would be a great book to read to kids.
Amy Forrester
Apr 29, 2012 Amy Forrester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One day Jack is riding in the back seat of the car while he dad drives and he begins to describe his dream car. He’d pour over design to create the perfect car, with three headlights, four taillights, two giant Cadillac fins, and a Plexiglas dome. Inside there’s a pool, an instant snack bar, and a robot built into the driver’s seat for when you get tired. But wait, there’s more! With a touch of a button the car becomes a boat, a submarine, and even a plane. The car will be cool and keen, one big ...more
Dec 27, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, reviewed
My niece and nephew both enjoyed If I Built a Car, which didn't surprise me. All of us like
Chris Van Dusen's Circus Ship, so I know that the kids like this author's style.

If I Built a Car was colorful, creative, and fun to read. My niece and nephew were both impressed with the fantasy car presented in this book, but I am worried. My nephew asked me if I could build a car like that in the story for him. Hm. I'm afraid that's beyond my current skill set, but I'm flattered that he'd ask.

I enjoy h
Follow along as boy dreams about building a spectacular car. The outside is incredibly futuristic and cool looking, but the inside is its pure fun. It includes a couch, fireplace, fish tank, pool, an instant snack bar and much much more.

The illustrations are whimsical and fun to look at. Plus Chris Van Dusen is a rhyming genius. The story smoothly flows and rhymes throughout the entire book and the text does not suffer from it.

The first time we finished reading this book, my then four year old
Ashley Byers
Sep 10, 2015 Ashley Byers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: preschool
K-Gr. 2. A young boy decides to design a better car than the old family station wagon. Driven by a robot, his sleek, supercharged vehicle can drive underwater and fly, and the interior includes a snack bar and swimming pool. The story is told in jaunty rhyming couplets, but the fun really comes from the illustrations, which perfectly parody 1950s' visions of the future, as depicted in such magazines as Popular Mechanics. The car glides past neat suburban homes with wide and perfect lawns, where ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-to-the-kids
This is a fun book written in rhyme. I think every kid, and adult who can remember back that far, thinks up all kinds of crazy things they would have if they could design their own car. The illustrations are colorful, detailed and fun. My youngest (5) kept interrupting to show me funny things going on in the pictures. My son, 7, was really excited by the fact that all sorts of crazy things were being added to the car. He has similar ideas of "what if..." and it was fun to see similar flights of ...more
Betty Hinton
Audience- This work would be great for 1st grade through 3rd grade students, for both boys and girls. The vocabulary in this book can be tricky for student to read by themselves.

Appeal- The book does a great job with rhyming and the sentences flow well together. The thing that is great about this book is the kid’s uses his imagination to show how he would build a car. He’s ideas are fun and exciting which will keep students engaged in the story.

Application-This book would be great to read you
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Chris Van Dusen writes: “I was born in Portland, Maine, on St. Patrick’s Day, 1960. As a child, my brothers and I would spend hours drawing pictures. We didn’t have video games or computers to entertain us, so we drew instead. One of my brothers would sketch intricate war scenes. Another would draw animals so realistic you’d swear they were breathing. My specialty was aliens, robots, and monsters. ...more
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