Tuesday, April 19, 2016
FNG Review: Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 12, 2016. 9780316199995. (Review from FNG courtesy of publisher.)
Ah, the car trip with kids, a universal parental rite of passage. We bend over backwards to make our children comfortable, entertained and most of all, quiet. Dan Santat follows his Caldecott-winning The Adventures of Beekle (Little, Brown, 2015) with this rollicking road trip to Grandma's birthday party and sets picture book reading (literally) on its head.
There is so much to look at here that one reading is just not enough and your youngsters will not let you stop at just one reading! Every bit of this book is used to tell the story - from the clever end-pages featuring a sunrise at the beginning to a sunset at the end to the invitation to Grandma's party on the verso.
The oversize format features large graphic novel-like panels and each panel is a work of art containing all sorts of details, such as the monotonous lines of telephone poles being reflected in the window that the boy is sullenly gazing out of. There are humorous little details as well, such as books, stuffed animals, including a stuffed Beekle, a handheld video game - all abandoned on the floor of the back seat.
As the trip goes on "forever," and the family journeys back through time, the reader has to read backward. Talk about denying muscle memory! Each double-page spread of the stops backward in time is hilarious. My favorite has to be the family's encounter with a T-Rex - even the boy's stuffed T-Rex is scared. But then, it's love at first sight. Even though the idea of playing fetch with a T-Rex has been done before, this game is the best ever because we all know that time flies when we're having fun. What's a little over-correction among friends?
Simple adages such as time flies, or the road is full of twists and turns or, sit back and enjoy the ride and there's no greater gift than the present gently convey lessons we'd like our kids to learn. Folks young and old will recognize themselves in this lovely, endearing homage to the car trip.
Are We There Yet? is a must-purchase! This is definitely a "never too old for picture books" read aloud. I'm buying it for my personal library as well as my school's. Bravo Dan! Is it too early to wonder about a second Caldecott nod?