Reviews for Outside In

by Deborah Underwood

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Outdoors is part of people all the time, even when they're indoors."Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us," opens the text. The premise that nowadays humans sometimes forget about Outside is belied so thoroughly and passionately by the illustrations that it barely registerswhich works just fine in this love letter to nature. From opening spread to closing, nature is all-encompassing. Derby uses watercolors, powdered graphite, and thread or flower stems soaked in ink to paint full-bleed scenes bursting with dampness and leaves, branches and sticks, and qualities of light so various that they evoke different seasons and different weathers all at once. Outdoors, watery paint describes hanging branches or rain; leaves look liquid; large orange patches are treetops but evoke flower petals. Indoors, sunlight beams through glass panes to set a watery, purple-black hallway quietly aglow. Bits of dense color saturation and keen, crisp, sometimes prickly edges pierce, delineate, and offset the bountiful, wet, organic swaths. Outside "sings to us with chirps and rustles and tap-taps on the roof"; it "beckons with smells: sunbaked, fresh, and mysterious"; we feel it "in the warm weight of our cats and the rough fur of our dogs." The child character embraced by Outside (when both outdoors and in) has peach skin and long, straight, dark hair.Lushness without sweetnesswild, darkly romantic, and exquisite. (Picture book. 3-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The intersection of outside and inside is creatively explored in this reflection on nature and its gentle persistence and ever-presence. The story begins in nature, as a young girl explores an impressionistic forest. "Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us. There was nothing between us." After a few page-turns, the girl is riding in a car, with contemplative text observing, "Now sometimes even when we're outside...we're inside. We forget Outside is there." But the outside always makes itself known in subtle and miraculous ways. Airy and translucent jewel-hued watercolors create a luminous canvas for powdered graphite details that delineate how the Outside sneaks In. From the sunlight that "flashes through the window" to the "warm bread and berries" on the kitchen table to the "wooden chairs, once trees," the natural world organically weaves its way into the girl's home, creating daily rhythms ("Outside shows us there is a time to rest and a time to start fresh") and routines ("a spider seeking shelter, a boxelder bug in the bath"). Visible brushstrokes and splashes create texture, reflecting the outside's raw, sensory, and uninhibited beauty -- a beauty that (on the last spread) summons the girl out of her house and into the golden outdoors, reminding readers of the majesty that is always there, waiting just outside. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.