Are We There Yet? BY Nina Laden, illustrated by Adam McCauley

Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden and Adam McCauley is about the journey, not the destination. You can't just sit down and read Are We There Yet? You have to pore over it, again and again, or you will miss it. All of it.

Are We There Yet? begins with Mom standing in the garage, motioning toward the car asking, "Are you ready?" As the car leaves the garage, the boy asks, "Where are we going?" Mom answers, "To Grandma's. Buckle up!" From then on, until the final pages of the book, the entire text consists of the boy asking, "Are we there yet?" and his mother answering, "No." This is where you need to sit back and enjoy the journey.

Adam McCauley's illustrations are colorful, crisp and completely engaging. McCauley's parents were both abstract painters and professors and McCauley himself is an associate professor at the California College of the Arts and has worked as an artist for almost thirty years. Of his work he writes, "For most editorial and advertising jobs, my aim is to create a distilled, bold visual poem that helps solidify the communication and bring levity and humanity to the words and ideas with which it's paired. I also bring this approach to more narrative tasks, such as in illustrating children's books; creating a visual story behind quite abstract ideas such as an anagram or a palindrome." 

I love knowing this and I feel like it perfectly captures the spirit of Are We There Yet? informing how I read it and enhancing my enjoyment of it. There is definitely a visual story going in in Are We There Yet?, a story you will want to "read" over and over. Upon first read, you might notice recurring characters. Upon second read, you might notice that these characters are all in the room where we first see our impatient hero. Over the course of Are We There Yet? the characters morph as the terrain of the story (and the car trip) changes.

As mother and son pull into the driveway of Grandma's house, there are topiary shrubs representing many of the characters and a few other friends sneaking about. Grandma asks how the trip was, and our hero answers, "Boring." This could seem surprising, considering what has just passed but, having raised three kids,  it rings true for me. Are We There Yet? is a stand out book that I will think about and reread often.

More books illustrated (and one written) by McCauley!

For more of Adam McCauley's work, especially his many chapter book covers, check out his website and his Pinterest page!

Source: Review Copy

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