About the Holiday
Sometimes it seems that clutter multiplies while you’re not looking. The beginning of the year offers an opportunity to clean out those closets, pantries, and basements that can be breeding grounds for mess. Getting the house back in shape can be fun if you get the whole family involved. Kids will appreciate being asked for their suggestions on organizing their rooms and may have some pretty creative ideas—just like the boy in today’s book!
If I Built a House
By Chris Van Dusen
While Jack’s mother digs in the garden and their dog snoozes in the sun, Jack is reconsidering his house. It’s just like the others in the neighborhood, he says—“boxy and boring and basically bland. / It’s nothing at all like the house I have planned.” Sure, his house will have function and flow, but the rooms inside are where his real genius will show. Then with the flair of an HGTV host, Jack invites his mom in to see what he means.
First up is the kitchen that has a mind—and arms—of its own. In this “Kitchen-O-Mat,” Jack tells his mom, “You don’t have to cook and you don’t have to clean. / It’s done by a space-age robotic machine. / It makes all the meals, and the food is deeelish. / Then it washes and puts away every last dish.” The living room is every kid’s dream of an indoor playground, with furniture that spins, a ball pit, and two trampolines.
The bathroom is built assembly-line style with no shower or tub—just an ingenious “Scrub-a-Dub-Dub. / Just step on the belt and it washes you clean— / Even the places that you’ve never seen!” Jack’s bedroom’s a penthouse of glass in the round, with a 200-feet long twisty slide that deposits you into the Art Room through a round door in the wall. The wall is great for drawing on too, but “…don’t worry, it’s cool. / Hung way up high, on a big giant spool, / Is a huge roll of paper that hangs to the floor. / Just draw till you’re done, / Then pull down some more.”
If you’ve ever wanted to explore outer space, Jack’s Flying Room is the place for you. With just a flip of the switch on the wall, you’re floating here and there, totally free. In Jack’s house you’d go from flying to racing in the Racetrack Room, which “features a racetrack that loops all around / with superfast go-karts that don’t make a sound.”
Are you more of a swimmer? Well, Jack’s thought of that too with a Fish Tank Room where you can snorkel and dive with turtles, stingrays, an octopus, and all sizes of fish. Tired of houses that just sit in one place? Then you’ll love the room that Jack’s left for last. “Literally speaking, this room is a BLAST! / “So welcome. Sit down, I’ll seal up the hatches. / This Plexiglass Playroom completely detaches!” Powered by jets, you can soar all around the neighborhood. For Jack, “this room is as good as it gets!”
With all of these features and incredible rooms, Jack tells his mom, “My house will be nifty. My house will be neat. / My house will stand out as the best on the street.” Wistfully dreaming of his modern design, Jack says, “If I built a house, that’s just what I’d do.”
Chris Van Dusen knows how to tap into the mind of a child with all of its fantastic imaginings and anything-is-possible daring. Young readers will love seeing what Jack dreams up in his kid-perfect house that combines the best of features of their favorite playgrounds and attractions. Dusen’s sprightly verses pair uncommon words amid complex sentences, and the jaunty rhythm is a joy to read aloud.
Dusen’s retro illustrations are bold and vibrant with plenty of cool and ingenious details in each room to fascinate kids. The snaking arms that busily cook in the kitchen, merry-go-round coffee table, replaceable wallpaper, and loop-de-loop racetrack offer the kinds of playful pandemonium that kids crave. If only all smart houses looked this cool.
Funny and imaginative, If I Built a House would be a lighthearted choice to inspire creativity at home or in the classroom.
Ages 3 – 7
Dial Books, 2012 | ISBN 978-0803737518
To learn more about Chris Van Dusen, his books, and his illustration work, visit his website.
Organize Your Home Day Activity
Shark Organizer Jar
Does your room need a little organizing? This fun Shark Organizer Jar will take a bite out the messiness and make your room look awesome too!
- Wide-mouth plastic jar, like a peanut-butter jar
- Gray craft paint
- White craft paint
- Black craft paint
- Paint brush
- Find a point in the middle of the jar on opposite sides of the jar
- Mid-way between these points on the other sides of the jar, find a point about 1 1/2 inches above the first points
- From the first point draw an angled line up to the higher point and down again to the lower point to make the shark’s upper jaw
- Repeat Direction Number 3 to make the shark’s lower jaw
- With the gray paint fill in the jar below these lines to make the shark’s head
- Along the jawline, paint jagged teeth with the white paint
- Add black dots for eyes on either side of the shark’s head
- Let dry
Picture Book Review