Tag Archives: dan santat

Day 149 – Are We There Yet?

Today we read another book whose cover illustration sucked me right in. The comic-book style of the artwork, and…well…the rampaging T-Rex called out to me. “Are We There Yet?” by Dan Santat is a delightful, imaginative, and humorous book about passing the time by letting your imagination run wild.there yet

The book’s protagonist is a young boy on a road-trip to grandma’s house for her birthday party. The car trip to grandma’s is always exciting, he assures us…at least for the first 60 minutes or so, at which point he asks “Are we there yet?” and grumbles to himself “This is taking forever”. He is painfully bored. Soon, however, we begin to see all the things that can happen when your brain gets so bored that it starts to drift…

Cars on the road become a locomotive being chased by mounted bandits…and then suddenly the car is walking the plank of a pirate ship…competing in a jousting match…or passing through a time warp into the era of the dinosaurs! Ultimately, bandits, pirates, knights and ladies, and the car itself are all riding on the back of a T-Rex – making time fly soooo quickly that it actually passes them all by; when they arrive at grandma’s, the party has already been over for 43 years!!

When our hero does wake up eventually, he has arrived at grandma’s house – and the excitement returns. He runs out to get his hug from grandma and head in to the party…where we see him sitting despondently at a table in a room full of adults – one of whom is pinching his cheek. Everyone else seems to be having fun, as he mutters, “Can we go yet?”

Mr. Santat’s artwork is outstanding – full of action and expression. There are are all kinds of little details in every picture to keep children (and adults) poring over pages long after the book has been read the first time. The startled or scared looks on the faces of the parents, as the little boy imagines them experiencing each time-travel experience with him, are particularly entertaining. The story also reads like an oversized comic, with scenes taking place inside multiple frames on the same page and the orientation of the pages changing as the little boy’s imagination starts to kick in.

Aside from the innovative and action-packed “packaging”, I appreciated this story in large part because the endless cycle of “when are we going to get there?” to “Can we go yet?” is so familiar. It’s funny, because, as a father, I’ve seen this play out first-hand time and time again. At the same time, I could definitely see things from the little boy’s point of view. If you have ever road tripped with your children (or your parents!), I think this one may sound familiar to you, too.