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Book Review: Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham

Outside, Inside, by LeUyen Pham, published in 2021 by Roaring Brook Press.
ISBN 978-1-250-79835-0

I won’t lie, to quote the Grinch, my heart might have grown three sizes after I read this book. As far as history goes, we know that processing the pandemic is going to be important for years and years to come, especially for our children. No matter your age, perhaps the first step is reading Outside, Inside. Caldecott Honor winner LeUyeun Pham delivers this heavy hitter via an incredible combination of realistic artwork meets global fantasy, where a windy lane appears to have homes from all over the world to inside a typical American bedroom, the reader looks at the outside world from inside. This view includes the myriad of ways helpers helped and nonessential workers stayed home. It shows how people stayed connected and how we continued to show love. However, it’s realistic in the sense that there is still a feeling of loneliness, reminding us all that we NEED human connection. The book includes a foldout that made me feel as though Pham wanted to enfold us in a hug. 

This page really drew us in. We all had questions about the use of color. We came to the conclusion that the pages were reminders about why we stay home, wear masks, and wash hands.
This picture instantly made me think about how our local schools had to chase kids off of the playgrounds while schools were closed and caution tape shrouded our local public park playscape.

This book is just important and needs to be on your shelf. Like it or not, the effects of COVID-19 will be with us forever. This book can serve as a bit of a time capsule for your child as they grow up and will no doubt explain these years to the next generations. After reading the book together, take the time to answer your child’s questions and perhaps even jot down their thoughts as they remember the last year. Tuck your notes inside the book to create a piece of history. Things you might consider adding: 

  • Did your child have a favorite mask? Was it hard for them to adjust to mask-wearing?
  • How did the pandemic change every day life and special occasions?
  • Did your family start new hobbies or traditions?
  • Describe how school changed and how it made you feel. 
  • Do you know anyone that was diagnosed with Covid? 
Pham included an important author’s note at the end, and while, long should be read together. If your child is restless, return to it together at another time.

This book is an easy 5/5 for me on Goodreads. Kirkus Reviews states in their starred review, “This powerful ode to community delivers a timeless message of humility, perseverance, and hope.” Outside, Inside also earned a starred review from Booklsist, Shelf Awareness, and School Library Journal

The suggested reading age for this book is 3-6 years, but trust me, this book is for every reader.

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