Review Blog

Apr 04 2018

Road Trip by Danny Parker

cover image

Ill. by Nathaniel Eckstrom. Little Hare, 2017. ISBN 9781760127404
It's a familiar scene on Australian roads - cars packed to overflowing as the family heads out on a road trip. And, inside, the conversation is just as familiar . . . "How long till we get there, Dad?" "About an hour." "How long is an hour?"
Clearly, for this father and son that's the start of this new adventure because in clever rhyming verse Dad lists all the things that take an hour.
It's sixty short minutes, not one moment more.
A bike ride,
A boat trip,
Ice cream by the shore.
It's a hammock in summer; or the park with the dogs.
It's a snuggle in winter; hot chocolate with rugs . . .
But as the drive continues from the city through magnificent countryside his son gets more and more frustrated urging his dad to go faster.
But Dad is quite content to stick to the speed limit and enjoy the journey as the scenery unfolds. Until finally . . .
This story will be familiar to most families who have ever undertaken a journey that goes beyond the regular routine of shops, schools and sportsgrounds. Parents will relate to the joy of just getting away from those clogged, crowded roads and breathing the country air, while their children will be full of the excitement and anticipation of the destination and couldn't care about the journey. And why does it always take longer to get there than it does to get home? And how long is an hour anyway? What are the fun things that a family does that fill in an hour?
Apart from the charming illustrations which bring the journey to life for the adult reader but which tend to show the countryside as somewhat bland and featureless as a child sees it, illustrator Nathaniel Eckstrom has cleverly added some ideas in the endpages which suggest ways that child passengers might like to engage with the journey - making maps, writing a journey, recording a diary (although the concept of a cassette tape might baffle). Anything other than "I Spy" or playing video games.
This grandma who lives 90 minutes through the countryside from her granddaughters just might have to get creative. Perhaps a scavenger hunt looking through the car windows, or a count-the-clouds competition.
A CBCA Notable for 2018, it is worthy of that honour.
Barbara Braxton

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