cover image Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

Nina Laden, illus. by Adam McCauley. Chronicle, $16.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-4521-3155-9

A dark-haired boy and his mother drive to his grandmother’s house, and before they’re even out of the neighborhood, he’s asking the question of the title. The voyage turns out to be anything but ordinary as increasingly surreal sights appear in the ever-changing landscape. In a desert, a distant volcano erupts, and a T. rex emerges from behind a heap of rocks; a detour under the ocean offers a glimpse of a parrot in a diving suit, while the final leg of the trip sees them traveling through a cosmic wormhole in what appears to be an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Laden (Once Upon a Memory) keeps the text to the exchanges between mother and child (“Are we there yet?” “No”) while McCauley (Smarty Marty’s Got Game) toys with recurring motifs as jackalopes, minotaurs, butterflies, cowboys, and more reappear in signage, topiaries, and unlikely environments. The twisting, cyclical movement hints at deeper metaphysical quandaries (where is “there,” exactly?). In the end, “Are we there yet?” is the least of the questions raised. Ages 3–5. [em]Author’s agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.) [/em]