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OUTSIDE, INSIDE by LeUyen  Pham Kirkus Star


by LeUyen Pham ; illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-250-79835-0
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Pham addresses the adversity and resulting growth experienced individually and collectively while the world sheltered in place.

This uplifting reflection on the spring 2020 coronavirus lockdowns expounds on the resiliency of the human spirit as everyone the world over shut themselves indoors. Several different locales and styles of homes are depicted, highlighting the global impact of this almost universal experience. The simple, first-person narrative emphasizes we through deliberate pacing and repetitive use, firmly cementing the theme of togetherness and connection. While the narrative never explicitly names the virus, this accounting is sensitive to both the challenges and triumphs of navigating this new reality of shared vulnerability. A busy street scene filled with masked first responders and other essential workers is followed by a double-page montage of hospital views inspired by real events. One double-page spread shows families cooking and playing while also featuring anxious faces of adults and a frustrated child at a computer screen. These vignettes are outlined in angular edges, reflecting the uncertain, disjointed feelings experienced by all. A following spread shows a larger spectrum of daily moments, this time shaped in sturdy squares and rectangles that signal a newfound stability as people learned to endure and adapt. Told with a gentle but steadying reassurance, this book posits that despite differences or the distances among us, everyone stayed inside because “it was the right thing to do.” Intentionally diverse, the characters represent a wide range of racial presentations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.5% of actual size.)

This powerful ode to community delivers a timeless message of humility, perseverance, and hope.

(author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)