Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?
Publisher Name
Cicada Books
Age Range
Release Date
July 04, 2023
New York Times award winning author/illustrator Sven Völker once again brings his trademark graphic imagery to this gorgeous introduction to philosophical ideas for even the youngest of readers.

Bear wakes up after his long winter’s sleep and joins his friend, Butterfly, on a journey. 'Where are we going?' asks bear. 'All journeys have secret destinations', says Butterfly. As they travel through forest, over hill and across a great river, Butterfly offers her wisdom about hardships, facing one’s fears and living in the moment. Bear’s natural impatience gradually softens into acceptance of the world around him. As the seasons change, the friends find themselves once more in front of Bear’s cave. Landscapes look different with different eyes and the end of one journey is the beginning of another.

This is a heartwarming book about friendship and about circles and cycles of life and being. It is a sweet and calming bedtime story that introduces Buddhist philosophies and values to young readers.

Editor review

1 review
Deeply Philosophical
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
The familiar question in the title is one parents are used to hearing, but the story does not play on the phrase in the way I expected. The story is unexpectedly deeply philosophical as a bear befriends a butterfly and travels with it through nature. Bear keeps expecting to arrive at a destination and the butterfly always has a poetic response that could prompt thoughtful discussion about the meaning of a journey. Along the way, Bear finally appreciates the journey and inherent struggle in the places they have traversed and reaches an inner calm before arriving home in time to hibernate.
The story was thoughtful and the illustrations were gentle and a bit abstract. I am not quite sure about the target audience of this book. There is quite a bit of text, so grabbing the younger end of the age range’s attention may prove difficult. Butterfly’s responses are lovely and thought-provoking from an adult perspective, but I am not sure the older children in the target age range have the necessary life experiences and abstract thinking skills to gain from what the butterfly is saying. This book would benefit from reading it with an adult and having many discussions to aid comprehension and I would not recommend it as an independent read for the age group suggested.
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