Those who enjoyed The Quiet Book will remember New York Times bestselling author Deborah Underwood's ability to convey inner peace, which children intuitively grasp so long as they're encouraged to cultivate it. Outside In captures another aspect of that peace: our sense of belonging to nature, whether we're indoors or outdoors.
The book begins like a fairy tale:
we were part of Outside
and Outside was part of us."
Illustrator Cindy Derby matches these words with a primal forest scene. A person strides among the trunks of towering trees, followed at a distance by a cat — perhaps the long-ago ancestors of the girl and the cat pictured in the rest of the pages.
But what happens in our own times, when we forget that Outside is there? Fortunately, Outside itself reminds us, "with flashes at the window and slow magic tricks." The mysterious, dream-like quality of the illustrations reinforces the sense of interchange between us and Outside, who comes to us indoors by sunset shadows, sunbaked smells, berries, a boxelder bug in the bath, and even our wooden chairs.
Written for 4 - 7 year olds, Outside In has received five-starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher Weekly, School Library Journal, BCCB, and BookPage; it was also named one of the best Spring Reads of 2020 by Publishers Weekly. Even before the pandemic, it would have been a perfect reminder of our imperishable relationship with nature. But as we explore what sustains us in the COVID era, the book's message about nature befriending us when we're solitary and kept indoors elevate it to a whole new level of essential reading.