Saturday, January 10, 2015

Meet the Author: {Q&A with Chris Van Dusen!}

I've long been a fan of the illustrations of Mercy Watson, and last year we discovered all of the other books written and/or illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.  He has since become a favorite around our house not only for his engaging illustrations, but also for his delightful rhyming and storylines.  He was kind enough to answer a couple of questions for me.  Following his responses, I've highlighted some of his work that I highly recommend!

Which book(s) or character(s) have been your favorite to work on?

I have a special connection with Mr. Magee because he started the whole thing (I still hide Magee and Dee in one of the pictures in all my books). But I really enjoyed creating the Mercy Watson gang for Kate DiCamillo especially Eugenia Lincoln and I also had fun with Mr. Paine, the villain from The Circus Ship. They are two of my favorites. I guess I'm drawn to the dark characters!

What book are you currently reading?

I read mostly in bed before I go to sleep, but I listen to books on tape (or CDs) during the day while I work in my studio. It's a great way to pass the time. I just finished listening to Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and now I'm listening to The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Both are excellent!

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

I love mint chocolate chip and coffee chocolate chip, and there's a place we go to in Florida that has a killer lime/chocolate soft serve swirl that's amazing. But a really good vanilla is really tough to beat. Sometimes a simple dish of plain old vanilla tastes the best.

If I Built a Car

Published in 2005

Jack is a young boy who has thought long and hard about how he would build a car.  It wouldn't be just any ordinary car.  Oh, no.  It would be complete with a swimming pool, a snack bar, and a robot.  It also has the abilities to float, submerge under water and fly.  Written in perfect poetry, this makes a fun read aloud.  My husband has said that this is his favorite story to read to the kids.  According to him, the book captures exactly how a young boy thinks.  I love the engineering and creativity portrayed throughout the book.

Perfect for: Preschool/Early Elementary/Late Elementary

If I Built a House

Published in 2012

Jack has put his designing skills to use again, and this time he has designed the house of his dreams (and my dreams!).  My favorite room that he imagines is the kitchen that cooks and cleans up after itself.  :)  What kid wouldn't want a flying room, giant slide, ball pit room, or room filled with water and sea life?  Like If I Built a Car, it puts thinking and creativity to use.  

Perfect for: Preschool/Early Elementary/Late Elementary

King Hugo's Huge Ego

Published in 2011

King Hugo is a very haughty king, and likes to boast.  In fact, he gives a speech every Friday morning to the kingdom telling everyone how wonderful he is.  When he is rude to a sorceress, she casts a spell on him that causes his head to swell everytime he says something boastful.  His bragging continues, and his head grows to an enormous size!  Once again, he has an encounter with the sorceress, and once again he is quite rude!  She tells him of the spell, and provides him with a very humbling experience.  Humor and magic are used to teach a very important lesson!

Perfect for: Preschool/Early Elementary/Late Elementary

The Circus Ship

Published in 2009
A circus ship full of circus animals crashes, and all of the animals swim to an island.  The people of the island are wary of the animals until one of them performs a heroic act and the town sees them as kind.  All is well until the unkind circus owner comes to collect the animals.  The town cleverly disguises all fifteen animals to hide them from the angry owner.  

My little family has the time of their lives locating all of the animals in their disguises. 

Perfect for: Preschool/Early Elementary

Head on over to his website to check out the rest of his books and a little more about him. 

Happy reading!


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