Monday, June 25, 2012

Chris Van Dusen

I stumbled across this picture book author/illustrator when I picked up one of his newer books - Randy Riley's Really Big Hit. My son had just finished his first season of t-ball and so I was looking for baseball books to read with him. This one couldn't have fit the bill better. It is about a boy (Randy Riley, of course) who can't play baseball very well. He likes it. He has fun. But he just isn't all that good at it. Of course, when he spies a giant flaming meteor headed toward earth he has to combine his love of science, robots, and baseball to save the earth. This book is a blast. I loved reading it because it has a great rhythm and practically begs to be read aloud. And I loved that Randy Riley didn't let the fact that he wasn't good at something affect his enjoyment of it. He was good at other stuff, he didn't have to be good at everything. I really liked the illustrations too. Retro inspired robots, mid-century modern houses, it is quite a nice looking book. It is also obviously the author/illustrator's style because after reading this title we quickly moved on to the rest of them.

We particularly enjoyed Circus Ship. Once again, it is very fun to read aloud with a nice rhyming rhythm. And a very cute story where a big bad circus owner loses his circus animals in a storm. They wash up on the shore in a small sea-side town. At first the townspeople think the circus animals are pests, but they soon discover that they are actually pretty handy to have around. The image where the animals are hiding in plain site was a particular favorite with my son who poured over the pages and giggled when he discovered the camel hiding as as a heap of straw and the Tiger camouflaged with the hanging laundry.

The Mr. Magee books are also very cute. We particularly enjoyed Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee because of the huge ravine and danger. My son LOVED it when the moose was climbing over the "bridge" only to discover a very worried looking Magee directly underneath him. He was less thrilled with A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, but I attribute that a bit to his lack of understanding of how camping works and so the hijinx didn't resonate with him as much as it could have. I'm looking forward to reading Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee next.

If the artwork on these covers looks familiar, it might be because Van Dusen illustrates the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo!
Book Source = Library Copies


mary kinser said...

My three-year-old and I love "Circus Ship" too - he's always proud when he can find the tiger.

Patti said...

Such a cute book!