Review Blog

Aug 15 2014

Outside by Libby Hathorn

cover image

Ill. by Ritva Voutila. Little Hare, 2014. ISBN 9781921894688.
(Age: 3 to adult) Recommended. Picture book. Gardens. Exploration. Imagination.
Moving from couplets to stanzas, using half rhymes and full rhyming words, Hathorn gives the reader, child and adult alike a series of entrancing words, designed to beguile the reader into the summer scenes in a garden where two children play. The beckoning refrain,
'under fluttery leaves
in the magical breeze
in the summery sun
outside'
appears on most pages, giving a compact image to the reader as they read. The words beckon the reader and the children, as we see them experiencing different aspects of the garden: the cat on the stairs, the chime bells up high, the tickly green grass, with descriptive phrases added to the refrain. They explore and wonder at the magical experiences in the garden.
Eventually the smell of dinner lures them inside, and the garden is there for tomorrow.
If the words dazzle and beguile, the digitally produced illustrations mesmerize, filling each page with colour, the eyes taking in every detail.
Reminiscent of the scrap book days of yore, where children collected sheets of cut outs and stuck them into a book, the doll-like features of the children and the mother peer out. They are surrounded by a myriad of detail, some looking like wallpaper some like rug designs, adding to the feeling of nostalgia.
Children will pore over the pages, reading the words aloud, gaining an impression of the world outside where no electronic device can be seen. For classes, this book is a fascinating introduction to the ideas of a garden or outside space.
Fran Knight

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