Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat: 04/05/17
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat is one of two excellent road trip picture books that were published in 2016. Both books play with the idea of how long a trip can seem, especially to a bored child in the backseat.
Santat's interpretation is literal — equating the car with a time machine. In both cases the trip involves a drive across the country from home to Grandmother's. This trip, though, is motivated by an upcoming even happening at the Grandmother's and they have an invitation.
The idea here is that they have a specific date on which to arrive. As they have made the trip many times before (presumably) they know how long it will take (assuming normal traffic and road conditions).
But a road trip story is about what happens between points A and B. If the road is a means to an end, then it's part in the narrative will be reduced to a montage at best.
Imagine now, if the more bored you were, the slower the trip went. Santat's book begins subtly as the car pulls onto the highway. They are passed by three cars, each of an older vintage. A flip of the page and they are being passed by a train and covered wagon.
At the trip's nadir, the family finds themselves face to face with a T-rex. At this point, the book pauses to give a bit of advice: to live in the moment before the entire trip passes you by.
As soon as the bored boy notices the T-Rex and takes in the other oddities he had been ignoring, time ticks forward. The more fun he has the faster they go.
The other thing about road trips is, the more fun you have, the more likely you are to get off course and miss your destination. Or maybe you'll want to add a few days on the road — extend the itinerary.
Here, that means traveling to the future. But as any roadtripper knows, the road — the adventures on the road — tend to stick to a person. Here, that means, the past being pulled along in the wake of the family car.
Take for example, the pirates who are standing with the confused family as a robot asks in QR if they want their picture taken. (Try it out with your phone — the QR Codes really do work).
To arrive on time, in the right place, one must concentrate on the goal — on the final destination. That is the lesson learned here. It's all in finding the right balance between enjoying the ride and staying focused.
Comment #1: Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 22:37:25
This is the perfect book for my daughter. She, like me, suffers from motion sickness so she doesn't particularly enjoy road trips. She'll be all for making the deadline and get it over with ;-)
Comment #2: Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 21:50:28
I'm sorry you both are troubled with motion sickness. Enjoy the book.