Are We There Yet? (times two!)

A few months ago, two fiction picture books with same title, Are We There Yet?, released in the spring. Since we’re in the middle of the summer vacation season, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at these two books about a long car ride. And to get into the spirit of the books’ themes, I read both while on a road trip home to Indiana!

laden there               The first book, written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Adam McCauley (Chronicle Books, March 1, 2016), shares the journey of a young boy on a long car ride to Grandma’s house. The sparse text (ten of the spreads have only five words, “Are we there yet?” and “No.”) is a clever tool which allows the colorful, detailed illustrations to really shine. Animals, plants, and objects from early spreads make later appearances in other spreads, while some tell their own short stories over a few pages. Eventually, the boy’s imagination steers the trip through several far-out places on the way to Grandma’s house. The creative illustrations will definitely keep young readers busy on a long car ride!


The second title, written and illustrated by Caldecott medal winner, Dan Santat (published by Little, Brown and Co., April 12, 2016) chronicles the road trip of a boy on his way to Grandma’s house for a birthday party. In this delightful drive, the young boy’s imagination creates a very unexpected and interesting trip which (literally) turns the book upside down! The illustrations are rich and detailed — sure to keep restless riders busy as they explore trains in the old west, pirate ships, ancient pyramids, knights in shining armor, fearsome dinosaurs, and more. The illustrations tell a magnificent story, but perhaps what I adore most about this book is its subtle message about being present and enjoying the moment you’re in right now. What a great message for us all!

Oh, one more thing — I LOVE, love, love, endpapers for some reason, and both of these titles have lovely (and very different) endsheets that make me very happy!

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the author of more than 100 books. A mechanical engineer by degree, she enjoys writing about science topics and fascinating historical figures. Recent books include: SWISH! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, Astronaut Annie, Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, The Inventor’s Secret, and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Coming soon -- MARS IS, JUNE ALMEIDA VIRUS DETECTIVE! THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS, THE UNIVERSE AND YOU, and TBA titles from Calkins Creek, Peachtree, and Random House. Learn more about Suzanne and her books at:


  1. I’ll have to get both and do a comparison on stories and endpapers. They both sound like fun summer books. Thanks for the heads up, Suzanne!

    • I found it very interesting to compare these two books, so I’m sure you will to. There were many other fine details I didn’t mention. (and I did love those endpapers!)

  2. Avatar
    Rita D. Russell

    I’ve read Dan Santat’s book and really enjoyed its imaginative journey. I had no idea that Nina Laden had written a same titled story, so I’m looking forward to picking it up and comparing the two. Thanks for the alert! By the way, I also just finished reading and comparing two other same titled books, both published in 2015 and both written in rhyme, call “When the Wind Blows.” One book was authored by Stacy Clark and the other by Linda Booth Sweeney. Each was special and unique in its own way, evidence that while there are only so many basic story ideas, there are countless ways to explore them and make them your own.

    • So true! It’s fascinating to see how authors handle similar subjects very differently. Actually, I suppose if we looked back at several of our drafts of the same story it would be interesting to see the different “takes” we create on the same story.

  3. And just to toss a similar title into the mix, Ashlyn Anstee’s “Are We There, Yeti?”
    was published in 2015 (Simon & Schuster) featuring a bigfoot school bus driver!

  4. I was only aware of the Santat book (and the Yet one Cathy mentioned 🙂 ). Thanks for the heads up, Suzanne!

  5. Both very fun books!!!

  6. Geez, I’m an adult and still asking, “Are we there yet?” These books are perfect for me!

  7. The endpapers alone of the Dan Santat book are worth it! And the way the design leads the reader to maneuver the book upside down is really interesting. The editor and art director got credits and even their pictures on the copyright page, well deserved.

  8. I agree. It was very clever how the page design and carefully placed arrows directed the book upside down, and helped the reader continue reading the book “backwards” until it turned right side up again. Thanks for pointing that out!

  9. Thank you for this great post, Suzanne! Dan Santat had a hilarious instagram series that he did to launch this book. All tongue in cheek— he discovered that his new book had been printed “UPSIDE DOWN!” (incorrectly) and he had to travel back in time to try to fix it. Very clever!

  10. This was a fun comparison post — I love seeing similar themes shown in different ways! These are fabulous books. Thanks, Suzanne!

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