Hop into the back seat with Kay on her family's road trip from the mountains of Colorado to the farms of Iowa. Sometimes the back seat is unfair and the road is long, but plenty of fun and adventure awaits at Grandma's house! Going back home feels sad, but it's Kay's memories and a special gift from Grandma that makes the drive home easier.
In depicting Kay's developing awareness, Bradbury draws on her love for road trips and her twenty-year experience in special education. She affords Kay both hope and individualism, giving her room to resolve some complex feelings. Sotelo's sketches are consistent in character portrayals and scene continuities—they're pleasing and build the atmospheric energy necessary to keep readers invested. (It’s raining, for example, when Kay tears up on her trip back home). Readers will particularly enjoy the vivid and rich countryside details, the intriguing specifics of grandmother’s attic, the incidental glimpses at family dynamics (“Sue always gets to sit up front because she is the biggest”), and the clever touch of the cricket, too, visiting with its Iowa brethren, singing away with local crickets while the family eats.
Bradbury pulls at the heartstrings with an emphasis on domestic routines and the cherished bond between a youngster and a grandparent, maintaining a deft emotional momentum. Some sentences are flat or a touch wordy, but this wholesome picture book's accessible vocabulary, geographical elements, and big heart will surely engage young readers.
Takeaway: A charming bedtime read about a family's road trip across the country.
Great for fans of: Roger Eschbacher’s Road Trip, Cynthia Rylant and Stephen Gammell’s The Relatives Came, Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell’s The Night Before Summer Vacation.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A-