Week 1: Are We There Yet?
Our featured ambassador for week one of the National Year of Reading is Alison Lester, author of many children's books, including the much loved 'Are we there yet?'
Alison is a well known children's author and illustrator. Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special. Alison spends part of every year travelling to schools in remote areas, using her books to help children and adults draw and write about their own lives.
Alison's Reading Habits
- When do you read? I am a bookworm who will read anywhere, anytime. I read the newspaper wrapped around frozen bait! I love reading at night. If I wake up and can't sleep I sneak into another bedroom in the house and read for hours. Eddy never knows where he's going to find me in the morning.
- What's the book you've read most often? There's a couple; 'Uttermost part of the earth', by E. Lucas Bridges, about a family living in Tierra del Fuego about a hundred years ago and 'The god of animals' by Aryn Kyle, about a young girl living on a ranch. I used to love 'All the pretty horses' by Cormack McCarthy but its too bleak for me now.
- What was the last book you borrowed from your public library? I'm guessing a reference book for a book I was illustrating, maybe an animal encyclopaedia for 'Imagine'.
- What was the last book you bought from a bookshop? I bought 'The marriage plot' by Jeffrey Eugenides to give somebody for Christmas but couldn't bear to part with it.
- What was the last book you received as a gift? 'The forgotten islands', Michael Veitch's book about Bass Strait.
- What was the last/first e-book you downloaded? A Karin Fossum thriller.
- Do your ever cheat and read the end of the book first? Yes!
- Do you skim the boring bits or read every word? Sometimes I skim, especially if the writing isn't very good.
- At what point do you give up on a book? When I feel like throwing it across the room.
- Do you remember learning to read? Yes, 'John and Betty' in grade 2, it was very hard.
- What's the first book you can remember reading or having read to you? 'Mitten the kitten', by my mum.
- Was your family a reading family? All bookworms but we were often in trouble for reading during the day when there were farm chores to be done.
- Did you like to read as a child? Loved it, used to read with a torch under the blankets.
- Do you have a favourite book from your childhood? I loved a book called 'When Cobb and Co. was king' by Will Lawson.
- Estimate the number of books you own Thousands, maybe three thousand?
- Where's the strangest place you have ever read? On a horse.
- What author or illustrator has most influenced you in your professional life? Janet Ahlberg, I love her simple poignant illustrations.
Are We There Yet? Competition
Every parent who's taken children on a road trip will be familiar with the oft-repeated catch cry 'are we there yet?' Alison Lester's picture book of the same name tells the story of her family's journey around Australia in a campervan and is the theme of our national competition for children under 12 to tell us about their home town or a special place they have visited in Australia. They can upload a postcard or a letter with a drawing or photo to our website. In addition to the national competition, Are We There Yet? provides all kinds of opportunities for creative reading events at a local level. For more details about the competition, see the Are We There Yet information page.
Are We There Yet? Touring exhibition
Accessible versions of 'Are we there yet?'
Vision Australia, a National Year of Reading partner, has prepared accessible versions of 'Are we there yet?' in DAISY text and Braille. A copy of the Braille version is touring with the 'Are We There Yet?' exhibition. The following video shows the Vision Australia Library Manager, Tony Lezzi with the alternate versions of 'Are we there yet?'
An interview with Alison
You can also listen to Alison as she is interviewed by Frances Keyland on the Vision Australia 'Hear This' library show.
Want to know more?
For more information about Alison and her work, take a look at her website.
If you want to find out about all the National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.