Outside In by Deborah Underwood

Outside In by Deborah Underwood

Outside In by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cindy Derby (9781328866820)

This book calls readers back to be outside rather than staying inside. It reminds us that we used to simply be part of outside, and that at times now even when we are outside we keep ourselves separate. Outside though uses a few tricks to remind us that it is there, peeking in windows, sending sunsets and shadows, tapping on roofs and projecting bird song. The outside is also all around us inside in our sweaters, chairs, and food. Our pets remind us too as do the little insects that get inside. Outside waits for us, until we answer.

Underwood’s simple poetic lines soar in this picture book, creating moments of real beauty with her words. Using “outside” and “inside” again and again, she paints connection and demands that we all see the outside entering our inside. It’s a book that insists that we not only look outside, but acknowledge our connection to nature and the outdoors and get outside!

Derby’s illustrations are awash in watercolor that plays the bright aliveness of the outdoors against the gray of the interior areas. She uses yellows, orange, peach, purples and greens to beckon us all to look out the windows and connect.

Beautifully written and illustrated, this is an exemplary picture book. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Cover image of Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai (9781250314116)

The author of Pie in the Sky returns with the story of a twelve-year-old who wants to prove his maturity to his helicopter family. Henry’s family monitors what he is doing all the time, packing his backpack for him, making sure he has eaten, and hovering all the time. But Henry knows he can do a lot more than they think. That’s how he came up with a very exact plan to prove his independence: he will fly from where he lives in Australia to Singapore where his father lives. He’s also running from being exposed as the author of a nasty gossip comic at his school, something he is both proud of and terrified by. He just needs his ex-best friend to follow through on the plan, or he will definitely get caught!

The entire adventure that Henry experiences is a delight to experience by his side. His sense of humor both in his gossip comics and on the page is broad and very funny. Throughout the book, he is a disciple hoping to find a shifu to teach him what to do next in his quest. When he meets a girl on the plane, he soon discovers that she might just be the shifu he is looking for, if he can keep from making her so mad that she stops talking to him.

With the text broken up with illustrations done in neon green washes and black ink, this book will appeal to readers of Wimpy Kid. The illustrations range from single illustrations to panels in series to examples from Henry’s own blog done in a completely different style.

Funny, insightful and proof that everyone worth knowing is a little strange. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt and Co.