ARE WE THERE YET? by Nina Laden


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 5
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The trip to Grandma's house goes through many remarkable places.

A light-skinned child with short dark hair, surrounded by scattered toys and pictures and crayons, hardly seems ready when Mom announces that it's time to go. They're barely out of the neighborhood before the first "Are we there yet?" And that question is repeated over and over as they drive their little red car on a highway filled with various vehicles, across a long suspension bridge, and through farm country and then a desert. Even these ordinary settings have weird touches in McCauley’s vivid, posterlike double-page spreads: there’s a worm riding in a giant paper airplane near the bridge; a minotaur stands in the farm’s field; and a T. Rex looms in the desert. The locations grow quirkier, going underwater and even into outer space, where a young three-eyed extraterrestrial in a flying saucer echoes, “Are we there yet?” Finally at Grandma's house (which is surrounded by topiaries of many of the figures seen along the way), the child astonishingly pronounces the journey: "Boring." McCauley's mixed-media illustrations are bright and slyly amusing; readers will thrill at picking out the peculiar details, most of which have their roots in the child’s toys scattered at the beginning. Was the duo’s anything-but-boring journey all in the child’s head? Regardless, the cynical punch line seems to undercut what appeared to be a celebration of the boundless imagination.

Surreally unsatisfying. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4521-3155-9
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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