Books and Barks

Shiloh Goes to School

If I Built a School

By Chris Van Dusen

Shiloh’s Rating: Four paws and a tail wag!

Before I tell you what I think of this book, let me just say that I think schools are a great idea.

For humans.

My humans have been to school and let me tell you, it helps to have well-educated humans around. They know how to behave, when to bring food to us dogs, how to dial the phone for the dog beauty salons and where to buy the best dog outfits.

Ok, now for the book. It is great to find a book that has beautiful pictures AND a really good story. Mr. Van Dusen, the author, has created some wonderful books (If I Built a Car, If I Built a House) and this is one of my favorites.

The book is about a young pup…I mean boy, named Jack, who talks to his teacher about what kind of school he would build.

Yay, puppies!

And what’s the first thing he mentions?

“If I built a school, the first thing you’d meet
Are lots of cute puppies! They’d flock to your feet!”

Humans. It goes without saying they’d be cute and what’s this flocking to your feet business? Well, Mr. Author, you did mention the pups first so I guess it’s ok.

Now, the book mentions a lot of other things that would be really cool in a school like hologram dinosaurs and robots. Jack also has a great idea for the school library but you’ll just have to come down to the Charles Town Library and check out If I Built a School to see for yourself.

What kinds of things would you add to your school? Hover bikes in the hallways? Bring Your Pet to School Day? Let me know what you think. You can email my human pal, Brian, at and he will post your ideas on Facebook.

Also, an interesting note about the author, Mr. Van Dusen, is that he does all the pictures as paintings. He does not use a computer but uses a paint called gouache (sounds like squash) to make the pictures.

For more information about this author:

Parents: If I Built a School is intended for early readers but would be a great book to be read to younger children. The illustrations are interesting and have many small details for discussion. Teachers would also be interested in this book because of the discussions of school design. Obviously some of Jack’s suggestions are a bit over the top but it does open an interesting realm to talk about with their students.

This book is published by Dial Books for Young Readers, which is an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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