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The Picture Book Buzz

In-Between Things - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

After interviewing Priscilla, I really looked forward to seeing where her head spun as she looked at the wires between her television and the wall. Throughout our lives we are often in-between things - middle kids between siblings, children between parents, stuck between friends, or like Priscilla caught between two cultures.

If you have ever been in-between anyone or anything (between jobs, schools, or a rock and a hard place) you'll enjoy this book. I am in awe of the complexity and wackiness that Priscilla wrapped into this delightful book and her ability to do it with a rhyming text.

In-Between Things

Author/Illustrator: Priscilla Tey

Publisher: Candlewick (2018)

Ages: 4-8



Concepts of middle, boundaries, and combinations, and poetry.


Look over there — the cat is between a table and a chair with a tear. But now look again: the cat is on top of the dog, who’s between the floor and the cat (and not too happy about that!). As you wander through the delightfully detailed illustrations, the more you look, the more you’ll see — including colors made from a mix of two others, hybrid implements such as a spork, warm nooks that are neither too cold nor too hot, even a cross of a zebra and cow that makes a . . . zebrow? In an engaging and utterly stylish debut, rising star Priscilla Tey leads readers on an addictive exploration of the in-between, a surprisingly far-reaching and everywhere concept.

Opening Lines:

An in-between thing is a thing in the middle.

The cat is between

the table that's green

and the chair with a tear,

sitting right over there.

The dog is between

the floor and the cat

(and does not enjoy being

in the middle of that!).

What I like about this book:

Priscilla has masterfully tackled the concepts/notions of middle, boundaries or separations, combinations, and transitions with a lively text and bold colorful images that radiate with humor and personality. Each page is full of things that are "between" one another or one state and another.

Beginning by examining the idea of in-between being "something in the middle," the illustrations are loaded with nuggets for the kids to find. The middle picture frame, the sock between the cushion and the couch, and the parrot between wires, to name a few. Then she expands the idea to in-between floors, walls, and houses. Every image contains multiple in-between items for kids to discover.

Text and Image © Priscilla Tey 2018

"In-between" can also form a barrier, or helpful separation, such as a bowl between a cat and a goldfish, doors between rooms or the indoors and outdoors, or even a fort between night time monsters. I just love their sad, lonely faces. In addition to a barrier, Tey ingeniously includes at least nine middle items in this image.

Text and Image © Priscilla Tey 2018

As the child succeeds in finding in-between things, Priscilla ingeniously tackles the notion of combinations. Green being an in-between mix of yellow and blue, orange in-between red and yellow, and a skort in-between a skirt and shorts. Then she dives into the silly and creates combination words - "zebrow," and "giroodle." What a perfect place to play with combination words like labradoodle and peekapoo, or their own made up words.

Text and Image © Priscilla Tey 2018

Briefly, the text touches on the in-between nature of twilight, neither light nor dark. As the School Library Journal noted, "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." It challenges the reader to look for all "the weird and wacky" they'll find in the world and in-between the covers of this book.


- Priscilla Tey has asked her readers to: "Go out and find more in-between things! Write your own sequel, post it online!" (give it a try);

- what can you find "in-between" at your house, school, or on a walk?

- practice the alphabet or number sequencing - what comes "in-between"';

- play "monkey in the middle" or "red light, green light" where you are "in-between"; or

- draw or create your own combination words or animals.

If you missed it, Priscilla Tey stopped by to talk about In-Between Things this Monday.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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