I’ve been to Australia! It was free!
Okay, it was actually via Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia, a picture book written and illustrated by Alison Lester. But her 32 page trip is so marvelous that I can only hope the actual Australia is as wonderful as her book. The other three quarters of my family discovered this 2005 book without me. But when I finished reading it to my then-toddler and kindergarten kids (taking 10-15 minutes- lots of detail!) they asked for me to read it again immediately.
Lester has some kind of magic touch because turning your year-long family trip in the camper into a compelling picture book for all ages sounds like an unlikely feat. She takes us to a coral reef, to the Outback including Uluru, the famous rock, and through the rainforest. Her ink and water color pictures scattered over each page give you a sense of the varied landscapes of Australia.
But it’s the little details that make it magic to me. For instance, she gives us a map and cross-section of the camper and even shows big brother Luke sleeping on the ground nearby in his sleeping bag. We attach to the story as we see the family interact with each location, like when Luke is pretending to surf on the curves of Wave Rock or when Grace (the eight year old narrator) reaches her fingers in the air to imitate boab trees with huge trunks and little branches like claws starting way up high. You’re there!
I enjoyed frequent little maps showing us our progress in a full trip around the continent. What a superior way to start finding out about Australia compared to a thick, intimidating adult book. Then Joe Curious has a little foundation for finding out more.
What family trip do you wish Alison Lester could have documented for you?