ARE WE THERE YET?
by Alison Lester - Penguin Books Australia, 2004
ages 4 to 12 years / diversity, s.o.s.e.
When I was a child my parents took our family and a caravan and worked their way around Australia. I didn’t do that with my family and Are We There Yet? makes me wonder what I could possibly have been thinking to skip the experience.
Alright, I know what I was thinking – five people in a camper van is one thing, eight is another thing altogether. Regular short adventures around Australia seems like a better option for our large family.
Are We There Yet? is the story of a family of five who load up a four wheel drive and a camper van and set off for a three month journey around Australia.
There are so many great places mentioned that are still on my wish list; I'm always a bit wistful after reading it.
Eight-year-old Grace tells the story of her family’s big trip – and in no time we become akin to a family friend who is hearing the story and travelling vicariously with them.
There are hints about the vastness of Australia – not the least being Grace’s younger brother Billy regularly asking ‘are we there yet?’ – and it’s impossible to escape the diversity that Australia has to offer.
If you were planning a trip around or to Australia, this could serve as a ‘greatest hits’ style guidebook. It’s also a book about family, adventure, trying new things and coming home.
I’ve read it often when someone in the family (or all the family) seems to be losing perspective, by not realising how wonderful our home is, or by getting too easily annoyed with a sibling. This may not seem an obvious choice when dealing with sibling rivalry, but the story of a family doing things together is often enough to spark a memory of fun adventures had by our own family - which leads to a ‘remember when’ discussion - and then rivalries are put aside or forgotten.
I loved reading this book with my children at other times too - the various places the family visits and the things they did often sparked conversations about things that our family, especially our ancestors, have done. I suspect that every Australian family will connect with a few parts of Grace’s family’s journey around Australia.
Of course Alison Lester’s familiar stamp is all over the book, which means that the house the family finally arrives home to is, literally and figuratively, the stuff of story books.
Just to finish, here's a really interesting video of Alison showing her drawing technique.