If I Built A School – Chris Van Dusen – If I Built #3 – Dial Books – Published 13 August 2019
If Jack built a school, there would be hover desks and pop-up textbooks, skydiving wind tunnels and a trampoline basketball court in the gym, a robo-chef to serve lunch in the cafeteria, field trips to Mars, and a whole lot more. The inventive boy who described his ideal car and house in previous books is dreaming even bigger this time.
If I Built A School is Chris Van Dusen’s third If I Built… picture book. Brilliantly coloured spreads full of wonderful imaginings provide the perfect leaping off point to spark children’s own creativity. If I Built A School is more like If I Built a fun park. From glass tube travel ports and spaceships to holograms and water slides, Jack’s school design is wild and heaps of fun.
While the inclusions in Jack’s school are perhaps not exactly surprising, it is the leap of creativity and the passing of design over to the child that I really like. As Jack tours his teacher around the school, introducing her to his plans and reasoning behind them, even sometimes admitting that he doesn’t yet have all the details on how something might actually work, it is the creativity that is passed into his hands and his teacher’s looks of wonder that I most appreciate (especially her considered look at the existing brick school box at the close of the book).
There is so much that one could do with children after reading this book. Having children design their own school is just one simple activity. Working with DIY holograms is an easy tech-related activity, while in-depth discussion, for example, about Jack’s decision to have animals sequestered into small enclosures just inside the entrance of his school could spark much-needed conversation about the relationship between animals and humans.
The book rhymes gloriously. It’s a lot of fun to read aloud. Every two lines rhyme and they are grouped into four or six lines per page.
If I Built A School will be a fun addition to any school library or child’s personal bookshelf – perfect for sparking conversations about design and for igniting young readers’ creativity.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Children’s fiction – Picture book
Genre: Fiction, School and education
Themes: School, creativity, design, imagination, architecture.
Reading age guide: Ages 5-8
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 32 pages.
Published: 13 August 2019 by Dial Books