cover image ARE WE THERE YET?


Dandi Daley Mackall, , illus. by Shannon McNeill. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47095-3

The two tykes in this rhyming, rhythmical picture book heighten the familiar lament of road trip veterans with much melodrama: "It's too hot!/ It's too cold!/ Pretty sure I'm growing old!/ Look! My sandwich/ turned to mold!/ Are we there yet, Mom?" Mackall (the I'm Not Afraid series) includes typical activities—watching cows, smelling something skunk-strange, singing endless songs—but at each turn of the page, the children's woes differ slightly. On one page, it's "Slimy fingers,/ Smelly feet," and on another, it's "Whooshing air,/ Trucker's stare,/ There went brother's underwear." McNeill (Ook the Book) ties together the latter rhyme in a full-bleed spread of the boy searching for a toy in his suitcase, as the breeze catches his BVDs and carries them onto the highway in full view of a truck driver. The artist varies the compositions with back seat close-ups of the whining pair and overviews of the yellow car traveling a green road map—with telescoped vignettes of the children perspiring or huddling under a blanket. The scenes chart the children's increasing histrionics as they endure the "seat belt squeeze," find food at a rest stop and eventually fall asleep just as the car pulls into a theme park. Even the endpapers can be used as an "I Spy" car game. With verses often cleverly rhymed and illustrations chock full of details, this tale will prompt young passengers to recognize themselves as they weather the book's literal storm and sing the back-seat blues. Ages 3-7. (May)