V is for Chris Van Dusen
Every now and then I read a particular author and think YES! and EXACTLY! and That's what I was thinking! It's a wonderful feeling to see ideas so well articulated that they seem to know you and reflect your inner thinking. Chris Van Dusen is not that author for me, but he is for my son.
Everytime we read a book by Van Dusen my son seems to disappear for the rest of the day down the rabbit shoot of building and tinkering and pondering ideas. There is just something about the humor and energy and over-the-top ideas of his books that resonates perfectly with my kid and that is why in our house: V is for Van Dusen.
We've been working on our Author Study Alphabet for a while now. I started this project when my kids were 3 for a number of reasons.
1. To introduce them to a wide range of authors and books.
2. To help them understand the roles of an author and illustrator.
3. To inspire all kinds of fun projects and learning because truly a good author study does!
Chris Van Dusen is an author and illustrator of children's books from Maine. He has a growing collection of books he has written and illustrated, along with some he has illustrated for others. His style is distinctive and once you get to know a few of his books you'll start noticing his illustrations everywhere. You can learn more about him at his website: http://www.chrisvandusen.com/
affiliate links are included below
Our author studies always start with the books. On a trip to the library I gather a bunch by one author. If we like them then I usually request a bunch more to be sent to our library and pick them up.
We put these books in a special basket in one of our reading areas. I pull them out to read at group time or in the morning while we eat breakfast. My kids inevitably latch on a to a few books and that often forms our starting point for exploring the author and their books more. You can read more about our process in this post with all of our Author Study picks. These are our favorites by Van Dusen.
These are hilarious books. They hit the funny bone of preschoolers and early elementary schoolers perfectly. These rhyming, comically illustrated books are all fun read alouds.
A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
Mr. Magee and his pup go camping. It starts off well, but when a bear sniffs something delicious and accidently unhooks their camper adventure begins.
Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee
Mr. Magee is determined to learn how to ski. As with most things he tackles some trouble follows Mr. Magee down the slopes.
Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee
In this watery adventure, Mr. Magee and his trusty pal dog head to the sea. Their relaxing day by the sea, however turns into a whale sized adventure. This is the first book Chris Van Dusen wrote and illustrated and one of my personal favorites.
These are possibly our most favorite of Chris Van Dusen's books. I have two kids that love to tinker. These books are full of creativity and ingenuity and fun.
If I Built a Car
Jack isn't satisfied with his dad's normal car. He has big plans to build the ultimate flying, swimming, driving vehicle. He draws some plans, builds a model, and gives his dad a tour to remember in this fantastical and imaginative tale. Sure to inspire the inventor inside.
If I Built a House
This is similar to If I Built a Car, but instead you are imagining one of the more creative houses ever built. Full of the same rhymes and imagination.
Chris Van Dusen has a remarkable catalogue of titles to his name. Some he has written and illustrated, some he has just illustrated. All of them are delightful. Here are a few more we have really enjoyed.
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen
What do you get when you combine baseball and outer space? A humorous book that is out of this world. Randy Riley, much like the author and many kids, loves two things: science and baseball. Randy is a genius in many ways, but he cannot seem to hit the ball when he gets up to bat. One night however he sees a fireball through his telescope. It is headed straight towards his town and there is only one kid who can save the day. Rhymes, robots, and some unbelievable baseball make this read aloud a guaranteed hit.
Mercy Watson series. Written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
This series was written by the lovely Kate DiCamillo. She has penned something short and funny that is perfect for children just venturing into the world of chapter books. Part of what makes them so delightful are the illustrations by Chris Van Dusen.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath Written by Mac Barnett and Illustrated by Van Dusen
I shared this book in our B is for Barnett post. It is a hilarious book about President Taft and Van Dusen's illustrations are a big part of the hilarity.
In our case, the books about building were our favorites (although that's a tough one because Mr McGee probably made us laugh the most) and inspired the most in the way of extensions. Here are some activity ideas to go along with a Chris Van Dusen author study.
*Explore Rhyming Words
One of Van Dusen's favorite authors as a kid was Dr Seuss and that shows. Rhymes are everywhere in the books he has writtens, along with Seuss-like silliness. Take any rhyming word activity and you could easily apply it to these books. I'd start with the Mr. McGee books for rhyming activities.
*Tinker and Imagine
This is what naturally happens when my kids, especially my son, reads one of these books. These books inspired or played a role in 3 projects. Here's our beginner's guide to Tinkering with Kids.
*Create Blueprints for Your Own Imagined House
Inspired by If I Built a House, we did this activity as part of our Skyscraper Unit.
*Take it One Step Further
With If I Built a Car, my son was insistent that he wanted to build his own too. Here's a simple lesson for doing just that with preschoolers.
*Write Your Own Story
Both the Mr. McGee series and the Mercy Watson books are filled with hilarious antics that young kids love. If one of these is your favorites, create your own story together about your beloved characters. Down to the Sea started with a picture of a boat on top of a tree. What unlikely image could you start with?
Imagination and fun are the two things that always stick out to me when we read anything by Chris Van Dusen. What kid can resist those?
H is for Kevin Henkes : READ POST
I is for Rachel Isadora : READ POST
Our Author Study Alphabet : READ POST
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