cover image ARE WE THERE YET? A Journey Around Australia

ARE WE THERE YET? A Journey Around Australia

Alison Lester, . . Kane/Miller, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-929132-73-7

Lester (The Snow Pony) takes readers on a sprightly tour of her native Australia, placing them in the pleasant company of narrator Grace, her parents and two brothers. The bustling artwork is as key to this engaging travelogue as is the chirpy narration. Eight-year-old Grace balances anecdotes about family interaction with descriptions of landmarks they visit and activities they enjoy. Pulling an old camper behind their car, the clan sets off on a three-month trip, heading in a clockwise direction from their home on Australia's southern coast and around the perimeter of the continent, with several forays inland. Framed full-page illustrations depict the family listening to singing whales from the cliffs at Head of Bight and hiking around the giant red rock Uluru ("a huge red heart, right in the middle of the country"). Spot illustrations show the siblings hiding behind the Pinnacles that poke up through the sand "like giant limestone fingers," and a view of the Bungle Bungles from inside a helicopter. Other highlights include snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef ("a swirling underwater carnival of fish and coral"), sheep-shearing at some friends' farm and a picnic as fireworks explode over Sydney harbor. Lester's brisk visual and verbal pace gives readers an appreciation for the variegated topography and diverse animal population of her homeland and may well prompt future visits. And kids will surely nod in recognition at Grace's younger brother's familiar refrain, which gives the book its title. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)