Every once in a while a picture book comes along that turns everything we think we know about books on its head: How we hold them, how we view them, how we read them. Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet? is one of those books. It is innovative, unique, and oh-so-much fun, completely upending the world of books and providing both children and adults alike with a whole new outlook on reading.
In Are We There Yet?, Santat (who you likely know as the Caldecott winning author/illustrator of Beekle) tells the story of a boy and his family taking a road trip to celebrate Grandma’s birthday. Though the car ride starts off entertaining enough, the long drive eventually gets boring with a capital B. And when things get boring, time seems to lag: it slooooows down. Here, however, time doesn’t just slow down, it starts to go backwards! A wild romp through the ages ensues, complete with pirates and pyramids, princesses and dinosaurs. Will this family ever make it to grandma’s birthday?
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Are We There Yet? is unbelievably inventive, and reading it is truly a joy. You literally have no idea know how each page will ask to be read, nor do you know how each spread will fit into the book as a whole. Its surprising and brilliant format is comprised of both full-bleed spreads and comic style panels, and they are so detailed that you can undoubtedly study each illustration for an hour yet still find something new to marvel over on your next read. The manner in which Santat manipulates time and space is truly ingenious, and I never fail to laugh out loud as the little boy, thinking of nothing but how bored he is, completely misses the time travel going on outside his window as he wallows in his misery, totally clueless as to the fun he could be having until he comes face to face with a dinosaur. Simply put, Are We There Yet? is genius. This is one road trip you don’t want to miss!
Want the book? Get it here! Are We There Yet?, by Dan Santat. *This is an affiliate link.