Outside, Inside

Written and illustrated by award winning illustrator LeUyen Pham, this timely picturebook is dedicated to the first responders and essential workers whose selfless dedication during the pandemic proved so vital to us all.

The illustrator of over 100 books for children, LA-based Pham applies her assured image-making skills to a sensitive exploration of the countless ways in which COVID 19 has impacted on the lives of people from all over the world. Pham approaches the issue by contrasting the sudden change between our exterior and interior activities. In doing so, her choice of colour palette reinforces the strange alien quality of our experience. Her juxtaposition of bird’s-eye views of richly detailed street scenes alongside comic strip, storyboard spreads is particularly effective. Children will no doubt be enthralled by the many poignant narratives to be discovered and interpreted within an array of intricate frames. These stories which Pham explains in an author’s note, were inspired by contemporary news reports. Children will surely recognise themselves and indeed members of their families within this diverse representation of people and cultures.

Despite the challenge of the subject matter, Pham has produced a picturebook that, whilst being a truthful depiction, it is no less uplifting. Outside Inside emphasises how when we are connected by shared difficulties we can be sustained by compassion, hope, the slow, assured turn of the seasons and the promise of growth.