Reviews for If I Built a School

by Chris Van Dusen

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A young visionary describes his ideal school: "Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it's more like 15!"In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from "PB jelly to squid, lightly seared," and the library's books are all animated popups rather than the "everyday regular" sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallwayshardly any adults at all, come to thatand the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environmentat least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.An all-day sugar rush, putting the "fun" back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

K-Gr 3—School would be infinitely more fun if it were designed by a kid. One day on the playground, a young boy tells his teacher his vision of a perfect school. In it, there are zooming pods to transport students from class to class, classrooms that open up to the sky, and a robo-chef who will make anything requested of it. While there are elements that support traditional learning, most features of this ideal school emphasize fun. Told in excellently structured rhyming couplets, this story has a Seussian feel, although the vocabulary is much more varied and advanced. Though there is a sizable amount of text on each page, its design keeps the flow of the book moving at a comfortable pace. The illustrations have a modern, digital feel, incorporating exaggerated rosy cheeks on the main characters. Bright colors make the pages visually appealing, and the detail invites readers to scrutinize each image. Reluctant readers will be especially intrigued by this book, as it is engaging on a variety of levels. Additionally, the vivid imagination of the main character will inspire readers to create utopian schools of their own. VERDICT This book is an auditory treat to share with early elementary aged readers in a read-aloud setting.—Mary Lanni, formerly of Denver Public Library

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

While Jack enjoys the swing set at recess, he looks at his school, fires up his imagination, and tells his teacher about the visionary design and kid-pleasing features of his dream school. The lobby features puppies and large zoo animals too. Each classroom, complete with gliding hover-desks and retractable glass roof petals, will perch upon a stalk-like tower. In the lunchroom, a 20-foot robo-chef will prepare the food, and Pete can make anything, simple or weird from PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared. The gym includes submarine bikes, a trampoline basketball court, and skydiving wind tunnels. Written in rhymed couplets, the workmanlike text seems inspired by Dr. Seuss's flights of fancy, such as If I Ran the Zoo. According to the book-jacket note, Van Dusen's vision of the future was inspired by Popular Science magazine, and the fluid, cheerful gouache illustrations do have a certain mid-century vibe. From the series that began with If I Built a Car (2005), this picture book will amuse children while possibly inspiring a new generation of daydreamers.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2010 Booklist