Saturday, June 15, 2013

Both Sides Now: Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd

Lizi Boyd's Inside Outside (Chronicle Books, 2013) is a book that is much more than it seems at first glance.

Using brown butcher paper as her medium, Boyd opens with a plain house, a small boy seen through the window as a snowman stands guard just outside, while inside he works, intent upon planting seedlings for spring. Pictures on the wall show plants and trees which foreshadow the season to come.  The seasons change outside. as the boy moves out and then back into the house. Trees leaf out, flowers comes up and bloom, and birds appear in the trees, nesting and then feeding their babies.

Accompanied by his constant companions, a black dog and two mice who get on with their own parallel lives, unmindful of the events around them, the boy flies his kite in spring, finds a turtle in the warming pond, tends his garden, and fills his wading pool for the dog and cat to enjoy.

The scenes shift from inside to outside and back again, each move prefigured by the other, with the boy building a boat inside while sailboats float in pictures on the wall, and takes it outside to sail it on the pond while the turtle and dog watch from his beach towel. Fall comes, suggested first by the boy's paintings of autumn trees on the walls and carried outside as colored leaves float down from the trees and birds fly, fleeing south from approaching winter.

At last it is winter outside again, and the boy is seen through the windows, decorating a little evergreen inside, as snow falls on his snowman outside.

Cleverly placed die-cut rectanglar windows give little readers a chance to predict what comes next in this endlessly inventive essay on the seasons. It will take many look-throughs to take in all that is going on in Inside Outside. This seemingly simple little wordless story book has surprises and much to observe for youngsters just learning to "read" a picture book through its illustrations.

"... creative genius at work," says Kirkus Reviews.

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