How do you put what’s happened since March 2020 into a picture book to help children make sense of it all? This touching book by LeUyen Pham does it marvellously.
Focusing on a single girl in a face mask and her cat on the cover and how suddenly everybody who was outside had to go inside gives a real sense of the effect on individual children, but the book also widens out beautifully to show that this was a world event. Key workers are depicted from food delivery, refuse collection to shop workers as well as emergency services.
There’s plenty for children to identify with, like parents working from home or playing indoor games. The cat can be spotted on every page, but this is the kind of rare book where you’ll notice something new in the illustrations each time – there’s an amazing level of detail in the hospital pictures, for instance.
Outside, inside finds a hopeful way to tell the story of lockdown and Covid without ever mentioning those words, focusing on a strong feeling of community and that however different on the outside, people are the same on the inside. That could be over-sentimental in the wrong hands, but even I had a tear in my cynical eye as it’s handled so well in this beautifully inclusive and hopeful book. The care taken by LeUyen Pham shines out in every line and drawing. A brilliant addition to any library or home bookshelf.