Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Are we there yet?

It's a celebration! Today I arrived home to find a box of review books from Kane/Miller.

The first book I read was Alison Lester's Are we there yet? It's Australia's 2005 picture book of the year according to the Australian CBC. (Thanks to Susan at Chicken Spaghetti for the news.) It's a deserving title, that's for sure. What a beautiful, entertaining, and informative book.

Eight-year-old Grace is our guide on a six-month trip around (literally) Australia. Traveling with her in an old camper trailer is her mom, dad, and brothers, Luke and Billy. Grace's curiosity is infectious and we see Australia through her open eyes.

Over the course of her journey Grace is lucky enough to see whales, quokkas, a dolphin, a Thorny Devil, penguins, sheep, and an elephant that eats her hat. Young animal lovers will be thrilled. The family also experiences amazing natural wonders, like the Twelve Apostles, a rainforest, Uluru, the red domes of Kata Tjuta, and astounding rock art in Kakadu. They visit Sydney, Alice Springs, and Melbourne. They hike, swim, climb, drive, and even bungee jump.

Alison Lester's drawings are colorful, cheerful, and, most importantly, plentiful. Every detail is illustrated, bringing the journey and Australia alive. Lester personalizes Grace's experiences and Australia by interspersing description with the realia of traveling with a family. Mom's a bit afraid of heights and slightly overprotective and Billy, the youngest, is responsible for the title, "Are we there yet?"

Pack my bags. I'm going too! Oh. It's bedtime? I guess I'll just have to kid test "Are we there yet?" instead.