Prather’s Pick: Memories of playing outside
Christy Gonzales, librarian at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, says that everybody likes this week’s picture book for children. I can see why. I like it, too — a lot.
“Bringing the Outside In” was written by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Patrice Barton. According to the information on the credit page of the book, the illustrations “are pencil sketches, colored digitally.” No matter how they were done, the illustrations capture the joyfulness of children at play. The story is told in rhyme.
“Go outside and Play!” is the message printed on the back cover of the book, and that’s just what four children and a cute little dog do.
“We’re bringing the outside in, oh, bringing the outside in…” is repeated throughout the book.
On a wet spring day, the four children, dressed in jackets and boots, run outdoors, jumping in water puddles, picking up worms and playing in muddy puddles with a twig. One little girl has taken off her hat and is filling it with white flowers. She has apparently lost her umbrella, and her sister is holding onto hers for dear life. The wind is blowing their hair.
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And then the children are “bringing the outside in.” The little girl who was picking flowers still has them in her hat. The dog is carrying the twig in its mouth, and all of the children are wet, muddy and happy.
Inside, the floor is covered with muddy footprints, puddles of water and gooey mud. Mother cleans up one child. Another dumps water from her boots. One boy hangs up his wet coat, and his brother vigorously mops up water. The dog licks off his paws.
The flowers are in a jar of water that sets on a table. Beside it is the twig. While playing outside, the children have been collecting treasures and memories, too.
So then it’s summer, and the children are at the beach where they play in the water, collect sea shells, and explore a starfish. The dog checks out a grumpy-looking crab. This time it’s sand and water that end up in the house.
The reader will notice a drawing of a white flower that is taped to the wall. As the story continues, more drawings will join it.
In the fall, there are apples to pick and piles of leaves to jump in. The dog enjoys watching a squirrel up in a tree. When they’re back inside, there are leaves to be picked out of hair, swept off the floor, and dumped outside again. Apples are displayed on a shelf and especially pretty leaves are hung on a cord.
The fun continues into winter. In an especially endearing illustration, the four children, wearing pajamas, sit on a rug with the dog. They are watching the flames from a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps they’re thinking about playing outside in the snow.
The ending of the book is all about photographic memories of the outside fun.
I think there’s an unwritten message in this week’s book. In our modern world, where adults and children cannot seem to do without their electronic devices, there are rewards in playing outside, one of which is building memories. I love this book!
“Bringing the Outside In” is published by Random House. The hardcover book costs $17.99. This new (2016) book can be found at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Library.
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