I like Marilyn Randall’s books, I had read her first two and they were delightful. Writing a book for a young child is actually much more difficult than one might imagine. For Faithful Friends was her first foray into the young child genre (review here), and it really demonstrated her great ability. I have reviewed many books aimed at children but Marilyn is the first author that I have really enjoyed that did not just write the text, but did the illustrations as well.

She followed up For Faithful Friends with Best Of Best Friends (review here), once again she had a winner on her hands.

Inside Out is her third excursion, and she just goes from strength to strength. Although the characters are very different from the ‘friends’ series she has maintained a wonderful consistency in the style of both the prose, which is done in a loose rhyming meter, and the illustrations which are perfectly pitched for her target age group. So unique is Marilyn’s style I am pretty certain that if someone showed me 100 illustrations I could pick out the ones she had created.

The key to a successful children’s book is a complex one. Far more complex than many people understand. It is not merely a question of slapping a few words together and having some cartoonish illustrations. A well thought out children s book is a much deeper endeavor. The recipient is not the buyer! The buyer is usually a parent or grandparent. The author has to sell to an adult!

Most adults when looking for books for their young ones tend to seek out those that have some positive message. A book is a learning tool. To a young child it is nothing more than entertainment, yet in those pages can be important messages. When done well a child’s book is an educational tool that teaches some life values. A lesson learned and understood at an early age makes for a better person. As adults we understand many concepts, but what we view as concepts are often lost on a small child. However when you take a complex concept and break it into small, easy to understand ideas, the child can grasp it, and usually offer some commentary that you had never even considered.

Marilyn Randall is the King oops queen of taking a complex subject and putting it in terms that a young child can digest. Inside Out takes us into the world of how we perceive our self, and how we think others might perceive us. Beauty is on the inside, not the outside.

The best description is the one that Marilyn Randall offers in the dedication:

I dedicate this book to every child who at one time in their lives has thought they weren’t pretty or handsome enough. In our materialistic world it is easy for a child to feel that he or she isn’t good enough and we all need to know that true beauty is measured by who we are on the inside, not what we look like on the outside

In Inside Out we meet the wise old owl and the young frog. The young frog laments:

Why would God make me so ugly and green
Or for that matter, what of my warts?
He continued to cry on the bank of the brook
And his tears filled up by the quarts.

This simple stanza says much. Children are much more perceptive than people give them credit for. Todays world is a complex one, and one that is awash with peer pressure. A simple book like Inside Out might be just what your child needs. How many young children feel inadequate? In looks or achievement? They are perceptive, but often do not really understand the larger picture.

Inside Out is not triage, it is a true learning tool for a young child. Every child is going to feel some sort of rejection, it likely will be (in our grown up minds) just a minor thing.

To order your copy just click on the Amazon link above. I can say this, you will find a richness and satisfaction in this book that is lacking in many other authors that aim their works at being useful and educational to young children.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!