cover image Outside In

Outside In

Deborah Underwood, illus. by Cindy Derby. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-328-86682-0

“Once/ we were part of Outside/ and Outside was part of us/ There was nothing between us,” begins Underwood (Ducks!) in plainspoken lines. “Now/ sometimes even when/ we’re outside.../ we’re inside.” Derby (How to Walk an Ant) portrays this tension in a gentle series of illustrations that mix gauzy, muted tones and textures with punctuations of color. The pictures follow a small child and family, visualizing moments, indoors and out, when “outside reminds us” of its abiding presence. Inside, “flashes at the window” illuminate a hallway, a window-side transformation exemplifies nature’s “slow magic tricks,” a tiny snail sneaks in on a bunch of kale, and rooftop serenades include “chirps/ and rustles/ and tap-taps on the roof.” Even when the girl sits (“in wooden chairs,/ once trees”) or stands at the bathroom sink (“rivers come inside”), the outdoors communicates its presence, requesting attention. In the final pages, the child and a cat step outside into a feathery, vibrant landscape—a moving reminder that nature’s beckoning need not go unrequited. Ages 4–7. [em]Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.) [/em]