Are we there yet? by Alison Lester

cover image

Penguin, 2002. ISBN 978 0670880676.
(Ages: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book. The National Year of Reading, 2012, has chosen this picture books as its focus for reading and book activities in Australia in 2012, and rightly so. It is an amazing book, considered a classic, detailing the exploits of a family and their trip around Australia in their family 4 wheel drive. With the refrain of 'are we there yet' common to everyone, everywhere, the family hits the grey nomad trail, one increasingly covered by younger families as well. A map at the start helps set the scene as the family packs up grandpa's old camper trailer with everything they think they will need for the three month trip.
A small Australian map every few pages acquaints the reader about how far they have gone and reinforces the position of the places they have stopped at. From The Cooroong to Uluru, Wave Rock to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the sights and sounds of Australia are presented in Alison Lester's beautiful illustrations and economical words. What better introduction to the Australian scenery could we hope for? I can imagine every classroom using this book as an introduction to any unit of work based around Australia, its land and its people.
The glowing pictures of various places around Australia are set against the family's trials and adventures, with the group pictured in their various costumes suited to the climate they are travelling through. The whole is presented with warmth and humour, underlining the vastness of the land through which the family moves, and also its friendliness and comraderie.
Fran Knight