Review: In

If you have a little one in the house this summer you know that boredom might be the only limit to a young imagination. Author Nikki McClure shows us a boy who has no time for that in her engaging book, In.

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In is a simple story with a great deal to offer. It is short enough to capture toddlers and preschoolers, and boldly illustrated with McClure’s cheerful paper cuts in black, white, and bright yellows. Both text and pictures look spare at first but are thoughtfully detailed. It begins with a boy who simply wants to stay in: playing indoors, still “in” his pajamas. He goes on a mental adventure “in” a laundry basket and enjoys a leisurely breakfast, exploring the different meanings of “in” and keeping very busy with a variety of cozy “in” activities; until… could he be a bit bored? He goes out INto the rain, INto a puddle, and now he is decidedly “out”. He has a rambunctious play OUTside – looking “out” and staying “out” and running “out” of jam – until it is time to come back… “in”.

This book is such fun because it captures that moment when a child’s mind is changed and that dearest wish of the heart becomes something else. With a quick storyline and mild repetition it ponders the various implications of two common opposites: “out” and “in”. Children hear these words a lot, but what do they mean? And what good associations can they make with both of these basic words? What does it feel like to read a story “in” someone’s lap, or where can you go “in” your basket? What does it taste like to put milk “in” your tea?

“Out” is equally a word that can mean freedom and adventure, or enjoying something to its fullest, or gazing “out” from the safety of a hidden place. This little boy tries it all. He embraces a world full of adventure, but doesn’t neglect to soak up the comforts of a loving home. He studies and admires nature but always has someplace snug to go. (His outdoor play culminates in a tribute to the author’s fondness for owls, which is somewhat random but interesting all the same.)

In is a celebration of imagination and play, encouraging children to appreciate all that is familiar and to explore something new. It might inspire junior citizens (who could be getting weary of the long summer days?) to read a book, or to build a rocket ship, or to help make breakfast. Or maybe even to come over for a good cuddle. In or out, there is so much to do.

If you liked this book you might also enjoy: The Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker

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