ins and outs and thereabouts…a list of five

inside this book are three books cover imageInside this Book (are three books), written and illustrated by Barney Seltzberg
published in 2015 by Abrams

This tip-of-the-hat to children authoring and illustrating their own stories is a simple, but brilliant little book.

Open the cover, and big brother inside this book illustration barney seltzbergSeymour introduces you to his book — a smaller volume he has enclosed for you to read. He’s written quite a story about a Funny Little Thing!

After Seymour’s tale comes an even smaller book created by his sister, Fiona. Fiona, it seems, likes purple and artistic living.

inside this book illustration2 barney seltzberg

When you’ve finished with Fiona’s book, there’s one more tiny one by the small Wilbur. It may be small, but it’s got a zingy ending!

inside this book illustration3 barney seltzberg

All three of them have put their books  inside this book “because books are better shared.”

Most children enjoy creating their own books, and here is some fresh inspiration for ages 3 and up.

out and about shirley hughes cover imageOut and About: A First Book of Poems, written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
published in the UK in 1988; first U.S. edition 2015 by Candlewick Press

This volume of poems by Shirley Hughes dates back almost 30 years, but it’s just been released in the U.S this year, so it’s easier than ever for us to nab!

It’s structured around the four seasons, with 18 brief, toddler-sized poems, almost all joyously set in the outdoors.

Slopping about in mud puddles in Spring. Sploshing in the wading pool in Summer. Misty, nippy walks in Autumn. Cold fingers and toes in Winter.

out and about illustration shirley hughes

There are trips to the seashore and sick days in bed. Budding and birdsong. Sand creeping into the beachside teatime. Blustery winds ballooning out the curtains. All manner of simple, interesting details from a child’s point of view.

Shirley’s truly lovely paintings dominate the pages, her wonderfully out and about illustration2 shirley hughesreal children and natural settings communicating such humanness and freedom and joy. Each season begins with a full, two-page spread epitomizing the way out-of-doors looks at that time of year. It’s beautiful just to watch her palette change, from the electric lime of spring, to the aquamarines of the sea in summer, burnt oranges in fall, and chill blues of winter.

I can never rave enough about Shirley, so I’ll just stop there. A sweet collection for ages 18 months and up.

outstanding in the rain cover imageOutstanding in the Rain: A Whole Story with Holes, written and illustrated by Frank Viva
published in 2015 by Little, Brown and Company

This is a terribly difficult book to try to explain! So I’m super thankful for this image from the New Yorker which demonstrates how it works even though it’s perhaps a bit annoying that it is constant flipping there. Sorry about that!


Anyway, the minimal story just traipses along with a little boy spending his birthday at Coney Island.

The cleverness comes from Viva’s super stylish design incorporating cut-outs in the pages. You can’t see it very well, but on the spread above with the folks upside down on the roller coaster, there’s a cut out around the words “NIGHT RAIN.” When the page is turned, it reveals the new words “NIGHT TRAIN” making a new sentence, and the cutout also turns that baseball cap into an umbrella.

Every two spreads, then, are transformed in this way — great fun especially for beginning readers to see the magical transformation of the words.

Very tricksy! For ages 3 and up.

inside outside cover imageInside Outside, a wordless book by Lizi Boyd
published in 2013 by Chronicle Books

Here’s another super clever book using die cuts to transform pages. In this case, Boyd moves us outside and inside of a home through the flip of a page.

The story follows a little person — could be a boy or a girl — through one year. It begins in winter, then travels through the seasons and around again to winter as we close.

inside outside interior lizi boyd

S/he’s a busy little thing, making snowmen, painting pictures, playing in the rain, flying kites, planting gardens, making toy boats to float in the pool — a lovely set of creative endeavors, both indoors and out.

The way the pages work is like this.

inside outside lizi boyd interior image

As you see, here we’re inside crafting toy boats. The window behind is a die-cut, looking outside. Now turn the page…

inside outside lizi boyd interior image2

Though you can’t tell from this, the die cut has flipped and become the window. Now we can look inside from outside. We can peek at the books and objects on the shelf. Now, too, the boats, child, dog, and some other items have moved outside.

There’s lots to spy out and talk about as our location shifts, as well as our view through the windows, and many elements in the pictures. How could we bring trees or birds inside?

I love Lizi Boyd’s imaginative, wonder-fying work for children, and am greatly looking forward to her new book coming out this fall. This one’s perfect for ages 2 and up.

in this book cover imageIn This Book, by Fani Marceau, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet
first published in France, 2012; published in the U.S. in 2014 by Chronicle Books

Think of this book as a catalog of things IN other things.

Some are obvious, as a bird who is in a nest.

Some are a bit less concrete. There’s a hole in the cheese and a planet in space.

in this book interior fani marceau and joelle jolivet

Jolivet’s striking designs captivate us as we meander through these pages, thinking about what’s in what. What are you IN right now? Perhaps in a chair. Or in a lap. Maybe in a good mood. Maybe in a hospital.

So much pondering and stretching for young minds. Another simple book with lots of potential, for ages Under-Two and older.