Outside In – Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Anyone else feeling cooped up? Itching to get outside? Here’s a little treat to get you primed for opening the door.

If that cover doesn’t grab you, perhaps the opening spread with its collective first person assertion will:


we were part of Outside

and Outside was part of us.

There was nothing between us.

Text ©️Deborah Underwood Illustration ©️Cindy Derby

A child traipses through a mysterious and magical forest, populated with shadowy creatures and insects.

Turn the page to find out where the child is headed. An image of a car on a road winding through the forest, and the words:


sometimes even when

we’re outside….

Page turn:

we’re inside.

And the little girl, who was traipsing through the forest is now riding in the car, heading somewhere.

But where? Turns out, she’s headed home.

OUTSIDE IN is a quiet celebration of how we are all connected to nature, how it teases us with images, sounds, and scents. How Inside things like wooden chairs, wool, and water originated from Outside. Outside is playful when it sends “the sunset and shadows inside to play.” It sings to us, feeds us, nurtures us in so many ways.

And even when we forget sometimes that Outside is there, it calls to us. Then…

Text ©️Deborah Underwood Illustration ©️Cindy Derby

Outside waits…. 

I love the choice of placing those two words on a white page facing the child standing at the door. And the ellipsis that lead us to—

Text ©️Deborah Underwood Illustration ©️Cindy Derby

and we answer.

I want to give this book to everyone. Ever y visual detail created by Cindy Derby is perfect, from the end papers

Illustration ©️Cindy Derby

to the board under the jacket cover:

Illustration ©️Cindy Derby

Every word by Deborah Underwood is poetic and expansive.

Get thee a copy immediately!


Collect twigs, grasses, seedpods, etc. and use to make a collage.

Create fairy houses with found objects from your yard, garden, or woods.

Pair this book with OVER AND UNDER THE POND by Kate Messner and/or with THE HIKE by Allison Ferrell.

TITLE: Outside In

AUTHOR: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Cindy Derby

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020

Theme: nature, connection, wonder

Ages: all ages

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

12 thoughts on “Outside In – Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

  1. Sarah Tobias says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. It looks beautiful. Now I want to make a fairy House. And an idea for one just popped into my head.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I think it harkens back, in a way, to Deborah’s Quiet book. And I think it’s going to be just as popular. I attended Deborah/Cindy’s virtual book launch, and it was interesting to hear them talk about how careful they were not to talk about the visuals while Cindy was making the art. I was astounded at how many(I can’t recall the exact number) cover illustrations Cindy created before landing on the one where the “IN” in the title fit snug inside the doorway. Also during the the book launch, Deborah talked about how the idea for this book first came to her. She was sitting inside a church with a vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows, when a bird fluttered inside (if I recall correctly).

Please feed the chickens...

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