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Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee · Chronicle Books 2000

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After packing a huge lunch, Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee set off in their boat for a relaxing day on the water. But what begins as a fun day in the sun turns into a bumpy ride, when one bored little whale swims up to give their boat a friendly nudge hello. Soon the brave sailors that were once floating on the sea find themselves flying high above it, heading straight for a tree!

Excerpts from Reviews

“Van Dusen’s exacting verse and kitschy, perfectionistic gouaches make this one whale of a tale.” ~ Publishers Weekly

“Van Dusen’s sing-song, rhyming story makes for an agreeable read- aloud while his cheerful, candy-colored cartoon illustrations provide equal fun for the eye.” ~ Booklist

“A strong debut for Van Dusen” ~ School Library Journal


  • Children’s Book of the Month Club selection
  • 2005 Read With ME book – given to 18,000 kindergarteners in Maine

Personal Notes

When I read this book to kids they will often ask me where I came up with the idea for the story. It actually started in a very visual way. Being an illustrator, every now and then, random images will pop into my head. One day I started thinking about a boat stuck high in a tree. That’s how this book started. This is the first book I both wrote and illustrated and it will always have a special place in my heart.