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  • Writer's pictureShameer Bismilla

Outside In

Deborah Underwood’s words and Cindy Derby’s gorgeous illustrations are so powerful that one has to see the story through two different lenses – a literacy teacher's lens and an artist's lens. My students were in awe with the poetic verses and were eager to explore them in their writing. It also reveals the creative side of me as they began to probe me with questions about the girl's emotion as they studied closely the colours and shadows used in the book. My read aloud session has obviously tapped into their curiosity at such a deeper level.

Deborah and Cindy believe that we are living in an interconnected world. We humans depend heavily on nature to make our world complete. We simply can’t run away from the outside world even though technology tries hard to disconnect us from nature.

I personally feel that this book was appropriately crafted at the right time and should be dedicated to everyone around the world facing several lockdowns.

My students were totally absorbed by the detailed illustrations. They could visualise the girl being surrounded with nature - sunlight and moonlight passing through her windows, birds singing and tapping on the roofs. I love how the girl tries to connect to the outside world while she was staying indoors - things like household items that were once part of the natural world, vegetation grown to fill our belly, bugs and insects borrowing our indoor space seeking for shelter - the list is endless.

This book subtly nudges readers to start slowly building a relationship with nature; only then you can admire its beauty and accept that we are connected to the inside and the outside world. No matter how you distance yourself from nature, it will always creep back to you. Nature and humankind are not separate entities; thus when we hurt nature, we hurt ourselves too.

This whimsical book has truly inspired me to ditch my devices and make some time for the outside world. After all as the popular saying goes "getting outside is good for your mind, body and soul." Time to reignite my love for nature so that I can have a well-balanced life!


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