Monday, March 17, 2014

Yes, Let's by Galen Goodwin Longstreth

One of the tasks that's been drawing my attention away from the blog these days is planning for our first family road trip. Travel is pretty important to our family life, and in fact we've figured out that we Kinsers get a bit itchy when we don't have a trip on the horizon. Hubs and I have been wanting to do a road trip for a while, but while Sprout was still pretty little it seemed like it would be more of a headache than anything. (Let's face it -- when your kiddo is potty training, even a trip to the grocery store can require an unplanned stop!) But now that he's almost five (FIVE??!??), it seems much more doable. And so we're planning to hit the road in early summer for a road trip to Utah to see (what else?) dinosaurs. :)

But though our summer trip is going to be several days, there's no substitution for a day heading off into the wilds to have an adventure. Living in the Pacific Northwest, there's a bounty of natural wilderness all around us, and we love to get out and explore. A recent read of ours -- Galen Goodwin Longstreth's Yes, Let's -- introduces kids to just how thrilling it can be to see what nature has in store. (I didn't know until I read her bio that Galen Longstreth is from Seattle, but it totally makes sense!) Right from the get-go, you know this is going to be a fun title; the endpapers are styled like the family's refrigerator, complete with trail map, photos from past outings, lists ("animals to look for") and a grocery list, helpfully amended by one of the young members of the party to include basic staples -- like chocolate chips.

And that's just the beginning of the delightful illustrations by Maris Wicks, who definitely knows how to capture family life. Here we have a family of seven: Mom, Dad and four children, plus their adorable scruffy puppy, and they are out for a day of exploration. "Let's wake up extra early, before the day gets hot. / Let's pack a picnic, hurry up -- ready or not." So begins the adventure, where we see the family cajoling Mom and Dad out of bed, then the whole crew packing lunch (the youngest pouring extra extra chocolate chips into the trail mix. . . hence the grocery list addition!).

The tone Longstreth strikes throughout this one-of-a-kind picture book is spot on. Yes, Let's is all happy excitement, the anticipation of the events buoying the family through. Even though some small mishaps do occur, nothing can deter from the pure delight of experience. The joy of dropping backpacks and shedding layers down to swimsuits, then jumping into the possibly-too-cold-at-first water; the hopefulness of making boats out of sticks and leaves; the laziness of lounging with a book on the riverbank -- it's all here, evoking memories of encounters past for parents, and building the thrill of future outings in the minds of kids. The day winds down as the book does, with a stop for dinner and then a parent toting in a sleeping child. It's a classic summer adventure, the kind captured in photos to remember afterward. Who among us hasn't had days much like this, and long for the same for our own children?

Yes, Let's is a terrific book that deserves a wide audience, because it's about nothing more than enjoying time together in nature, as a family. Read this one now, if you're itching for spring, and start to plan your own summer escapades. It's fun to have adventures together -- so let's!

Yes, Let's by Galen Goodwin Longstreth, published by Tanglewood Books
Ages 3-6
Source: Library
Sample: "Let's hike the trail, hop the stream, and duck the fallen logs. / Let's go this way, we've got all day -- someone call the dog."

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