Four children of diverse ethnicity—and one small dog—cavort through the seasons, backgrounded by rhythmic verses and a simple refrain.
“We’re bringing the outside in, oh, / Bringing the outside in…” begins the book, with a double-page spread showing the children in raincoats, silhouetted against a sky in which the sun has begun to peek out. The pale-skinned girl with eyeglasses and pink raingear is deliberately splashing through a puddle, in nice contrast to her obviously feminine attire. On the next pages, she peers at a worm dangling from the fingers of her male, Asian-American friend (or, perhaps, younger sibling). “Worms in our clutches, / Wind in our hair, / Boots full of puddle, / Mud everywhere!” Finally comes the cleaning phase, in which the children work cooperatively and equally enthusiastically: “Bringing the outside in, then… / Wiping it off, / Mopping it up, / Dumping it out again.” Although most of the gentle, mixed-media illustrations show girls in more passive pursuits than boys, all the children show delightful exuberance as they enjoy each season’s outdoor offerings by playing, collecting treasures, recording memories, and cleaning up. Occasionally, a white adult woman shows up to help, but the focus is on the children. The text, art, and layout magically lure readers into believing that cooperation and cleaning are as natural and enjoyable as playing.
A sweet book for any place with small children in it. (Picture book. 2-4)