Outside / Mole’s Quiet Place

Inside and outside both feature large in these two Little Tiger picture books: thanks to the publisher for sending them for review.

Bee Chuck

Essentially this is a retrospective look at that happened to everyday life during the lockdowns and how it has affected our appreciation of the great outdoors.

It starts before we were instructed to stay indoors, life was frantic and the two narrators of the book never had a minute to pause and take notice of the natural world especially.
Then, the first day of the enforced period at home turned out to be fun with hours and hours to bake cakes, chat on the phone and play on-screen games. Quickly the weather and nature were forgotten. Quickly too, those indoor pursuits got more and more boring.

However, the spin off was that without the continual rushing around, there was time to stop and really take notice of what was happening outside. Through the windows could be seen nature growing and thriving in the city: so why not try to create outside, inside – or almost inside. We see the two protagonists imagining and then creating window boxes, dangling bird feeders from tree branches and making pictures of visiting minibeasts; they even made a camp in the kitchen.

In due course, in stages the restrictions were lifted: simple outdoor activities like feeding the ducks became the highlight of the day. People rediscovered the joys of chatting face to face instead of on the phone, cycling was preferable to sitting in a car and physical activities outdoors were far more fun that on screen gaming.

When finally people could spend as much time outdoors as they wanted, our narrators (along with most of the population I suspect) have decided that their priorities have changed: outside fun in all weathers is way more pleasurable than staying in. Furthermore with wildlife now much more abundant in cities, has come the realisation that rather than overly tame nature, we can enjoy a slightly slower life, a vital part of which is cherishing the natural world.

Author/illustrator Bee Chuck’s love of nature shines through in the child-like illustrations throughout the book. Let’s hope Outside will instil that love in youngsters and the adults who share it with them, be that at home or in the classroom.

Mole’s Quiet Place
Jane Chapman

Mole loves his treehouse home that he shares with his friend Beaver; best of all he enjoys their evenings together, a time when they can remember their old friend, Bear. However with its welcoming lights and welcoming atmosphere the two frequently have their peaceful evenings interrupted by visitors eager to enjoy their hospitality.

One evening as Beaver enthuses about being able to accommodate so many in their large space, the less enthusiastic Mole has, despite the heavy rain, decided to go down to the lake for some peaceful time alone.

Before long an understanding Beaver discovers the whereabouts of his friend and the following day, all the treehouse pals get busy working on a new project, just for Mole. It’s something that enables her to enjoy tranquility in watery surroundings and perhaps remember Bear; and from there she realises just how alluring their treehouse home is to the other animals.

A gentle, yet powerful tale of finding somewhere to be yourself. With her instantly recognisable illustrations, Jane Chapman’s heartfelt story will resonate with both children and adult readers aloud.

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