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The Garden of Inside-Outside


Book: The Garden of Inside-Outside by Chiara Mezzalama & Regis Lejonc, translated by Sarah Ardizzone

Ages: 8+

Relationship to country: This book was written by an Italian author about the time that she spent in Iran as a child

Book in a nutshell: A girl plays in a garden that she calls "inside" where she feels safe and on the "outside" there is a war

A girl named Chiara moves from her home in Italy to a new home in Iran, where her dad is working. Her new home has a beautiful garden where she can play with her brother. But outside of the beautiful garden, there is a war going on. Chiara calls the city outside a city-monster because she feels scared and upset with all of the terrible things happening outside the walls of her garden. She never goes outside and mostly she plays with her brother. She calls her garden "inside", where she feels safe, and the city "outside", where she does not feel that it is safe to go.

But one day when she is playing in the garden, a boy from the outside climbs the garden wall and comes inside her garden. She should have told an adult about this because he was a stranger and it could have meant that the garden was not safe anymore. But she does not tell an adult, and she plays with the boy Massoud. They become friends. She tries to give Massoud her favorite shirt as a gift, but he ran away. Days later he comes back and gives her a little wooden cat. I think he ran off because he wanted to have something to give to Chiara, too. Even when Chiara grows up, the little wooden cat helps her feel strong. 

My life now also is like inside-outside. The inside is my house where we quarantine for the past year, and the outside is where coronavirus is. I miss my friends.