Are We There Yet? By Dan Santat is a nominee for the Buckeye Children’s & Teen Book Award in the K-2 category.
From the Cover
Welcome to the road trip of a lifetime.
We get it. Car rides can be boring. And when things get boring, time slows down. So much so that it might start going backward — into the time of pirates! Of princesses! of dinosaurs!
You were just trying to go to your grandmother’s birthday party. But when time flies, who knows where–or when you’ll end up.
After reading this wildly inventive book– that even turns upside down! you’ll never look at being bored the same way again.
When a little boy is stuck on a road trip to grandma’s birthday time seems to crawl…and then go backwards. The text twists, you start reading backwards, and suddenly the family car is surrounded by men on horseback racing a locomotive, ship full of pirates, a jousting knight, Egyptians building a pyramid under the watchful gaze of the sphinx. And you might need a pit stop to play fetch with a t-Rex. Time and text twist again and we are lurched into the future with neon billboards and robots. But after a quick nap we arrive at grandma’s and wake in the present just in time for the party.
Dinosaur fetch is the highlight of this book, though there is other beautiful artwork throughout. I am usually not a fan of weird page layouts that force you to twist or read backwards but I think it worked rather well for this book.
There are not a lot of women in this book. I suppose mom is ever-present in the car and makes funny faces but the cover shows (presumably) Annie Oakley, Amelia Earhart, and Cleopatra they don’t actually interact with the boy at all.
I feel the bit about going to future doesn’t quite gel with the rest of the book. I wish it would have had some more interaction with periods we see in the past instead.
I personally like this book the best of the K-2 entries. I like the sparse text and the illustrations. I totally sympathize with lines like “my butt hurts” but I just have a hard time connecting with the bored in the car idea as I can always just read a book. Heck I would prefer to be driven so I could have some dedicated reading time!