The In-Between Book
Christopher Willard and Olivia Weisser (authors), Alison Oliver (illustrator)
Sounds True: 2021
Reviewed by Viv Young
The In-Between Book invites readers to explore the Japanese concept of ‘ma’ —the art of perceiving and considering what lies between spaces. It explores this concept cleverly through a series of playful, practical exercises. The exercises utilise the illustrations, as for instance when readers are asked to trace the spaces between petals on the page. The text also asks the reader to notice spaces in their own environment, such as the space between beats of their own heart. The exercises are thought-provoking and easy to perform in most environments. The interactive focus is particularly useful for young children but fun for any age.
The illustrations use mellow mauves, blues and white space and the overall affect is one of calm and peace. This design anticipates the potential for ‘ma’ to aid mindfulness and better understanding of emotions—something touched on in the book. It should, however, be stressed that the book is not wholly or even primarily focused on emotions, which can be useful for parents who are reading with kids who find feelings challenging. The illustrations work closely with the text and uses simple, symbolic design to engage young children and scaffold the exercises. The artworks regularly feature two young children and a cute puppy which adds to the overall appeal of the book for children.
The In-Between Book is a clever, interactive book to introduce a way of thinking about the world that may interest curious young minds and provide a useful pathway to mindfulness.