With the new release of If I Built a School, my family remembered how much we adore Chris Van Dusen’s books and read If I Built a School, If I Built a Car, and If I Built a House repeatedly during the month of September. We also revisited The Circus Ship, which is another of our favorite Chris Van Dusen books. Even though my children basically have this story memorized, we read it another twenty times in September.
With our fall collection of books, my children also gravitated toward one of my favorites, Sophie’s Squash. We rounded out the month with two brand new releases that were big hits! We hope you enjoy checking out my children’s selections this month and you find some new favorites as well!
Ultrabot’s First Playdate by Josh Schneider, 2019
(Ages 4 – 8)
Josh Schneider is an award-winning author whose quirky, off-beat picture books always make my son and me laugh out loud. When I saw that he had a new book out, I knew I had to have it immediately and it did not disappoint.
When a giant kid-like robot is told his neighbor, Becky, is coming over for a playdate, he is less than thrilled. He imagines Becky as a large hairy monster resembling Chewbacca from Star Wars. When the small, blonde haired child arrives, however, Ultrabot discovers that they have a lot to learn from each other and that having a new friend can be fun.
Ultrabot’s feelings of nervousness are sure to resonate with many children and the comical illustrations feature several droll details that will make both adults and children chuckle. This is a clever, amusing spin on playdates that also has a lot of heart!
If I Built a School by Chris Van Dusen, 2019
(Ages 4 – 10)
If I Built a Car and If I Built a House are two of my son’s favorite books, so I immediately put If I Built a School on hold when it came out this month. Rhyming text and Chris Van Dusen’s signature artwork shine in this amusing school-themed story about a boy who dreams of designing his own school. The vivid illustrations and imaginative storyline inspired my children to get out their markers and create their own idyllic schools.
Of course, after reading it, my son requested the other two in the series and all three were on repeat this month!
The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen, 2009
(Ages 4 and up)
After reading If I Built a School, my son asked for one of our other favorite Chris Van Dusen books, The Circus Ship. Awe-inspiring artwork displays a group of fifteen circus animals who are shipwrecked on a small island off the coast of Maine. At first, the townspeople see the animals as a nuisance, but after a daring rescue, they grow to love them. In a heartwarming ending, the town bands together to protect the animals from the cruel circus manager.
The upbeat rhymes are a joy to read aloud and the detailed illustrations could not be more engaging. My children and I particularly love pouring over the stunning two-page spread of the animals hiding in plain sight from the circus manager. This has become one of our all-time favorite read alouds!
Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, 2013
(Ages 4 – 8)
With the start of fall, I wanted to introduce my children to one of my favorite autumn reads, Sophie’s Squash. This quirky tale about a girl who adopts a squash as her best friend could not be more endearing or sweet. I was thrilled that my children enjoyed it as much as I do.
The Evil Princess Vs. The Brave Knight by Jennifer L. Holm; illustrated by Matthew Holm, 2019
(Ages 4 – 8)
My son and daughter could not get enough of this entertaining tale of sibling rivalry. Set in a magical fairytale land, an Evil Princess and her younger brother who is donned a brave knight enjoy annoying each other. When their Magic Mirror, who acts as a parental figure, sends them to their rooms, they realize that they can have much more fun while playing together than apart.
This relatable and humorous tale from the best-selling sibling duo Jennifer and Matthew Holm was a real winner with my children, but as a parent I wish the sister had been a bit kinder to her brother and redeemed herself in the end.