BOOK REVIEW: Outside by Deirdre Gill

We’ve been having some cold days here in Portland. There was a little snow even while we were gone over Thanksgiving. While I do not miss living in Montana this time of year, I hope we get some more snow this winter. It’s beautiful, and the kids love to play in it – no surprise! Last February Portland was blanketed and the city on hold for a few days; here’s my evidence, Patrick walking across one of the athletic fields at the middle school in our neighborhood:

There is a new children’s book about getting outside to play in the winter. While simple, the story and accompanying oil paintings convey two important messages. One, that getting outside, no matter what the weather, should be part of every child’s life. And two, the act of play needs no gadgets or toys, for one’s imagination is all that is required to have fun.


The aptly-titled Outside (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 40 pp.), written and illustrated by Deirdre Gill, follows a young boy as he cures his boredom indoors on a January afternoon by bundling up and heading outside into his snow-covered yard and the nearby woods. After playing in the snow and taking in his surroundings, he begs of his older brother, who is playing video games, to “come outside.” It seems as if his brother simply ignored him, and off the boy goes to more playing in the snow. A giant snow creature, a castle, and a dragon all emerge from his imaginative mind, enveloping him in the story playing out in his head. As the boy flys overhead on the dragon, we see his older brother looking out an upstairs window. Soon after both boys are outside, playing together, continuing the story.

Here are some images from Outside:

While writing this post, I learned that the author/illustrator is married to Jason Chin, another children’s book author/illustrator. His books are some of our favorites: Redwoods, Coral Reefs, and Island: A Story of the Galápagos. Their books go well together – creative and visually appealing while using minimal text to create worlds near and far. I hope you will read – and play – Outside!

This entry was posted in books, snow, winter. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to BOOK REVIEW: Outside by Deirdre Gill

  1. taryn oakley says:

    We lived in Montana before moving here as well, and I also miss the snow during the winter. I don’t need it all the time, but hope we get a good dump this winter!

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