Caldecott Medalist Santat shows the beauty of a bored mind in his new picture book. On a long car ride to his grandmother’s house, a boy gazes out his window and his brain gets bored. Then time seems to stretch and slow down. The world shifts with the book turning entirely upside down! Suddenly the car is back in time. Next to a steam train with bandits and aboard a pirate ship. They make it to medieval times and then back to the building of the pyramids. Finally, they are all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.Time can start to move again, too quickly and they find themselves in the future. Then suddenly, they are at Grandma’s house where the boy is all too willing to head back home.
Santat takes the classic dull car ride that every child has experienced and shows how imagination can change the entire trip, aided by a healthy dose of boredom. Told primarily in images, this story does have commentary by the boy and his parents as well as a framing narrative that speaks to the power of boredom. The flip of the book is cleverly done where you have to turn the pages backwards guided by the helpful arrows to remind you. It feels different and wild, adding to the experience.
It is the illustrations here that make the book so much fun. There are small touches like Beekle toys in the car that tie this to Santat’s other works. Watch the parents’ clothing change with each new time period as well as their over-the-top reactions to what they are seeing. The images change from comic-like frames to large double-page spreads. The space is used very intelligently, allowing for new reveals with page turns and creating tension as they move through time.
A great new picture book from a master author/illustrator, this picture book will have you looking forward to your next car ride. May it be filled with boredom. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.