Inside Outside was published last April; I’m hoping many of you have seen it by now.
In his illuminating interview with its creator, Lizi Boyd, Roger called Inside Outside a “lo-fi busybox of a book: sixteen wordless spreads of a child’s play and projects indoors and out, linked by the passing of the seasons and some simple die-cut windows.”
Inside Outside is wordless—rare but not unprecedented in Caldecott honorees. The child protagonist (and I call him/her that because she/he sure makes things happen, all through the book) invites the reader in on the title page just as one would welcome a visitor into one’s home—standing at the open front door, seemingly happy to have the reader’s company. The rest of the book fulfills that welcome with scenes of contented activity. And as Roger noted, both the die-cuts and the warm wanna-touch kraft paper make this a book very young readers will experience as much with their hands as with their eyes.
One of the things I most appreciate about this book is its lack of flash. The die-cuts don’t exist to wow readers with their cleverness. What they do is help connect every spread with the one after it and the one before it. The child here is never bored, always busy—but the activities and adventures are all on a very small scale. The mood throughout is one of creative productivity but also of enjoyment—the child makes a toy boat inside, then floats in the wading pool outside; builds a snowman outside with his animal friends, and then draws it, inside. Everything is connected here; that’s the point.
I found the compositions of the double-page spreads soothing despite their busy-ness: detailed without being cluttered, with the many squares and rectangles (of the doors, windows, and die-cuts) balanced by the circles of puddles, rugs, turtle, trees, etc. And the palette (as Roger and Ms. Boyd discuss in the interview) changes subtly through the seasons, yet always communicates warmth and cheerfulness.
I continue to be a bit bemused by the opening endpapers, which show a spring scene and include only one mouse, whereas the book begins and ends in winter in a nice bit of circularity, and elsewhere the (fun-to-find) mice always come in twos. Maybe some of you can help me with a justification… or just tell me “endpapers, schmendpapers.”
This is one quiet, homey, domestic, aimed-at-younger-children book. What do you think? Will it stand up to some of the bigger, louder, more elaborate books on the Caldecott committee table?