In-Between Things

illus. by Priscilla Tey. 40p. Candlewick. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763689834.
Gr 1–3—What starts as straightforward concept book exploring the preposition "between" actually incorporates complex thinking and problem-solving skills. A dog and cat in a living room introduce the simple idea that "an in-between thing is a thing in the middle" with a series of statements that correspond directly to the mixed-media illustrations. In a puzzlelike way, readers can match up elements of the text and the illustrations to identify what is between two items. Then the text explores a slightly higher-level thought that "in-between" things are boundaries or separations, such as a glass fish bowl between the cat and a goldfish, or walls and doorways between rooms in a house. Taking the idea further, roads can be between houses, bridges connect parts of roads, and cars or trains can take you between places. Next the idea of combinations is introduced, such as in-between yellow and blue is green, and in-between a spoon and a fork is a spork. The narrative ventures into fantasy with some made-up animals and animal sounds, and into philosophy with consideration of transitions. If the sky is dim, is it sunrise or sunset? The dog and the cat are constant connections throughout the book, giving readers a consistent link between the various physical and intellectual spaces through which the narrative travels.
VERDICT Unique and thought-provoking, this book is especially appropriate for "in-between" picture book audiences: children who appreciate the visual cues but are ready for a more complicated narrative structure.

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