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Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham

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Outside, Inside

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an entirely different way of life. Stay-at-home orders, indoor masking, online learning, social distancing, and intense news cycles about the ongoing public health crisis have reshaped our daily interactions. It is an anxious and unsettling time for both grown-ups and children. This book depicts why these changes happened and how we all play a part in restoring life to normalcy.

The beginning pages of the book acknowledge the strangeness and pervasiveness of the pandemic crisis: “Everybody who was outside went inside. Everyone. Everywhere. All over the world.” The book invites children to look for the “helpers” and first responders: “Some people needed to be where they needed to be.” All human experiences including isolation, waiting, mourning, and praying are included in this large picture. The book acknowledges change and its challenges to mental health: “We were all changing a tiny bit inside.”

With poetic language and colorful illustrations, the book also describes how the natural world exuberates with energy as human activities decrease: “Outside, the world kept growing.” As part of God’s ongoing creation, children kept growing too, even when they had been kept inside.

The author further transforms the story into one of human solidarity in the midst of a global crisis. “On the outside, we are all different. But on the inside, we are all the same.” There is hope in this solidarity, as well as in the coming of a new spring when all things are renewed. (Roaring Brook Press)

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