By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: October 1, 2012
Inside Out: A Modern Fable
by Frederick Alimonti
Reading Level: Ages 8 and up
Perfect Paperback: 36 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (October 2, 2012)
What to expect: Emotions, Friendship, Self-acceptance
Frederick Alimonti has penned an emotional tale of personal transformation. Beauty is only skin deep for his heroine Sally Simpson.
Told in rhyming verse, the story unfolds as Sally—a vapid wealthy girl solely concerned with outward appearances—bullies a shy fellow student named Jessie Smith. Jessie represents the flipside of Sally with her dutiful care of her younger brother Joe and much less fortunate circumstances. She doesn’t have the time or resources to be concerned with being cool or beautiful. On the bus ride to school, Sally openly mocks Jessie’s hair and clothing. While in class, she enjoys humiliating Jessie by knocking her books to the floor. Jessie suffers these attacks in silence, too proud to give Sally the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
Sally is in for a rude awakening when she’s greeted by a hideous visage resembling a furry monster in the mirror. Not only her appearance, but her bus, elite circle of friends, and her school have been twisted into a horrifying, unrecognizable vision. Her teacher Ms. Jones informs her, “Your appearance here comes not from your skin but from the depth of the character you carry within.” When Sally sees Jessie riding like a glorious queen in a horse-drawn carriage, Ms. Jones further explains, “It’s in our hearts and our deeds that our true beauty lies. All you wear on the outside is just a disguise.” After Sally awakens from her nightmare, she is relieved to have returned to her former self and on the bus she asks Jessie to sit beside her. Sally finally learns to love someone other than her face in the mirror. Alimonti offers a comforting message to socially awkward children, but a stern one to those who are cruel.
Young readers will conclude from the moral of the story that beauty is superficial and friendship is everlasting. Inside Out is an excellent choice for parents who would like to discuss these very worthy topics with their children.
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This book is a wonderful read. Here is a review I wrote for it:
Sally is one of the popular girls. She is pretty, she wears the latest fashions, and she has the best things money can buy. Jessie, on the other hand, is not one of the popular girls. It’s obvious that her family is not as well-off as Sally’s. The two go to school together, and their relationship is the classic bully/victim scenario. Sally and her friends ridicule Jessie and do mean and hurtful things to her. That all changes when Sally wake up done day and finds herself inside out. What she sees in the mirror reflects her true character, and it’s not pretty!
Inside Out is a fable that teaches kids to see the true character of those around them. It’s also a story that encourages kids to take a good look at themselves. What would they look like if they were inside out? The story is written in rhyme, which makes it an excellent read-aloud book. The illustrations are very imaginative and go well with the text. Inside Out is a wonderful tool to use with children when discussing bullies, and when talking about people who might be different from themselves. I highly recommend it.