Outside In

Author:  Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Cindy Derby

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 14/20

Reviewer: Laurie

“Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul!” ~John Muir

For those of you who know me, you know what trees and being in the woods mean to me. I have discovered that for my own mental health I need to ensure that I am outside and amongst nature for part of the day, whether that be alongside a river, on the shore by the ocean, or deep in the woods. It calms and grounds me and OUTSiDE iN reaffirms that we ALL need to be OUTSiDE.

Starting with the cover, the OUTSiDE is drawing us away from the dark and the inside to the bright colours and world of the OUTSiDE. Then if you look at the lettering in the title – it made me stop and ponder. Only the i is in lower case – could the OUTSiDE subtly be suggesting that “i” need to be part of the bigger picture – the OUTSiDE? From here it only gets better.

This is a beautifully illustrated book using watercolours to remind us about to take in the many offerings the “OUTSiDE” has to offer. Poetic phrasing that shares with us how outside used to be a part of us and how we have lost that by being inside.

OUTSiDE iN by Deborah Underwood, Illustrated by Cindy Derby

Underwood very cleverly shows how even though we may spend most of our time inside, we are still very much connected to the outside by what we wear, the food we eat, the seasons and day and night. And even if we do not go outside, outside comes in.

OUTSiDE iN by Deborah Underwood, Illustrated by Cindy Derby

There are so many ways this book could be used in terms of establishing mood, word choice and fluency not to mention the mention the various lessons that the OUTSiDE provides for us and teaches. The use of the language in this book, appealing to all of our senses, alongside the various moods created by Cindy Derby’s wonderful watercolored illustrations make this one of my favourite finds this year.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: The Panda Problem  Ogilvy , The Quiet Book ,
OTHER BOOKS BY THIS ILLUSTRATOR: Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children, The Boy and the Gorilla , How to Walk an Ant 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED K-8

The Great Outdoors

Although I missed the #pb10for10, for our newly created blog, I thought I would add a post about some great picture books featuring the great outdoors, some new, some perhaps you have forgotten or some who do not know. Here they are in alphabetical order by title

At the Pond by Geraldo ValĂ©rio

A wordless books where a young boy with his dog visits a pond on a grey dull day and befriends a swan. The swan invites the two to ride on his back and they enjoy a colourful afternoon and the boy takes the dog off the leash allowing him to play with the other animals. The boy and the swan continue to enjoy the beautiful afternoon together until the boy places the dog’s lease around the neck of the swan. The sky becomes dark and the other swans and wildlife disappear. The boy finally realizes to be a true friend he must allow the swan to be free.

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

Ernestine is about to go on her very first camping trip with her cousin Samantha and her aunt Jackie. Ernestine finds out there is a lot of gear that one must take and that camping is not as easy as it looks. From setting up the tent, to swimming with fish to eating tofu hotdogs, will this trip be memorable or a nightmare. Wonderful illustrations, with a variety of textures and tones that will keep readers looking for the details. A great story to discuss mindset and how being open minded may bring along some wonderful surprises and memories.

Goodnight Veggies by Diana Murray, Illustrated by Zachariah OHora 

A delightful look at various vegetables in a rooftop garden getting ready to rest for the night. Full of alliterations and rhyming couplets, readers will be taken on a tour with an earthworm through the garden visiting tuckered-out tomatoes, droopy pods of peas and even cranky corn. OHora’s illustrations are captivating and colourful as the sky darkens into the dead of night. A great addition to add for garden, plant and veggie enthusiasts.

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Oh my how I enjoyed reading this book by @alisondraws. A perfect blend of nature, science and the arts. Three friends venture off on a hike encountering various struggles and joys. What sets this book apart from others is the labels throughout the book of all the things the friends can see and enjoy. Each have a sketchbook and add their own ideas and at the end is a glossary and also additional information about various topics such as invasive species. This is a must add for libraries and classrooms – there is so many ways to read this book from the simple story to learning about the various animals and plants. There is so much to see and learn this is a book that will be enjoyed with more than one reading.

If You Take Away the Otter by Susannah Buhrman-Deever,  

Illustrated by Matthew Trueman 

Another gorgeous book for young conservationists and a mentor text to look at cause and effect. In this informational book, author Susanah Buhrman-Deever introduces readers to another forest that is found beneath the sea – the kelp forest. We learn how the kelp forest grows and as a result is a natural habitat for many other plants and animals including the sea otter. We then learn a bit about how when the Europeans began over hunting the sea otters for their pelts to the point of extinction things in the ocean changed not only below the water but above as well. With no otters, the major hunters within the kelp forest, sea urchins began to take over = destroying the kelp forest, effectively removing a key component to the habitat which had a domino effect below and above the water. When humans finally recognized that the near extinction of the otter impacted more than just the otter, laws were put in place and slowly the habitat returned to its natural balance. Matthew Trueman’s  majestic and colourful hues of blue in this book truly add to the beauty, drawing readers in and give the feeling of being in the water. The narrative texts also includes small captions of additional information that can be read as part of the narrative or alone.

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Llewellyn, a quiet rabbit likes to collect things – buttercups, feathers and heart shaped stones and place them in a jar where he could look at them and remember what he had seen. One day he meets another rabbit Evelyn and they become friends and collect things together that you think could not be placed in a jar like rainbows and the wind just before it snows. And together they create these memory jars until Evelyn moves away. Llewellyn figures out he still can collect new memories and send them to Evelyn to share with her creating different memories just as she sends memories to Llewellyn. A beautiful magical story about friendship and the way we can collect memories no matter the distance. .

The Keeper of the Wild Words by Brooke Smith,

Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

A beautiful book about a grandmother who is worried about the loss of the important natural words she grew up with disappearing from everyday language. Grandmother Mimi takes her granddaughter Brook on a walk to discover and find the words that are slowly disappearing, fearful they will be forgotten. As they walk they see a variety of these words that include, insects, plants and even animals. By instilling the love of these natural words, with her granddaughter, Mimi knows they will live on. Inspired by real life events, the author read an article where natural words were removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary for Children as it was felt they were no longer relevant to children. Takin matters into her own hands, Brooke wrote this book to ensure that children can experience nature and the vocabulary associated with it. A great way to talk about language and how it changes, and who determines if it is important or not.

The Not So Great Outdoors by Madeline Kloepper

A young city girl is reluctantly dragged out of the city to the great outdoors with her family. As they set up camp and take in the beauty of the campsite, the girl complains about all the things the outdoors does not have, no electricity or sculptures, playgrounds or city lights. Each page shows what this girl is missing – campfires, waterfalls, all kinds of natural things to play on, the northern light and the many animals that live in the forest. Then she begins to compare the things her family does like catching a fish to catching a bus, comparing the different types of contractions workers in nature (beavers) to the city and how food around a campfire is pretty tasty and realizes the outdoors is not such a bad place to spend time after all.

The Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel

I loved @brendan_wenzel They All Saw a Cat but this book resonates with me even more. Billed as a companion book to its predecessor, A Stone Sat Still again tackles perspective – but I found this book more introspective making me think of the stone and my potential relationship. The stone is still, but depending upon what or who the stone can be loud and quiet, used as a kitchen, smooth or rough. This book could spark lots of discussion about nature, not only our perspective of the stone, but also our place in nature.

We Are the Water Protectors by by Carole Lindstrom,

Illustrated by  Michaela Goade 

This book is a must have for classrooms and libraries and takes an Indigenous view to only of water but the responsibilities we have as people to protect the water on Mother Earth. In this stunning picture book, Carole Lindstrom, explains the importance of water and how water connects us to Mother Earth and to all living things. Lindstom then talks about the “black snake” that is coming and will destroy the water, the land, the animals and anything in its path. From here we shift from information to activism and how coming together they can stand against the black snake. She speaks about how it will take courage and not be easy to speak for those who cannot, the rivers, the animals, the earth to speak for them. The illustrations by Micheal Goade are incredibly beautiful and flows like water. The analogy of the black snake in contrast to the other illustrations is very dark, rigid and symmetrical and resembles the pipeline. At the back is further information about the Dakota pipeline, where to find more information and a pledge to become a Water Protector.

I am always on the look out for new authors and illustrators with a passion for nature. What books would you add to the list?

Hike

Author: Pete Oswald

Publisher: Candlewick

Release Date: March 17/20

Reviewer: Laurie

I’m a sucker for wordless books and when the topic is nature I’m all in. Pete Oswald has created a masterpiece with this book with a beautiful surprise at the end.

A genderless child and father are preparing for a Hike. We see the child’s room scattered with books, drawings, trail guides, binoculars and a camera along with posters on the wall all related to the outdoors. Finally the day for the hike arrives and we see the child and dad getting ready, packing up the jeep and leaving the city for the winding road to the forest and where they will hike.

As they start their journey we are treated to waterfalls, and wildlife, with varying perspectives from side views to bird’s eye views of the gorgeous scenery the two are enjoying. We see them at different elevations , checking out fish in a pond, having a snowball fight and then they reach the summit to take in the view and complete a task they set out to accomplish.

An absolute gorgeous story with beautiful illustrations that include two page spreads to small snippets with white space so we can truly focus on the passage of time and the smaller details in the illustrations. One of my very favourite finds this year.