What’s Inside? (my fridge)

whatsinside_cover300pxWhat’s Inside? by Isabel Minhós Martins and Madalena Matoso, translated by Isabel Alves and Bergen Peck is a simple and yet clever, funny and honest look at the very stuff of life; the clutter, the detritus we accumulate in our pockets, stuff into in the back of drawers, let lurk around in the bottom of our bags.

Part spotting-game, part memory-exerciser, What’s Inside is a slice of family life which allows readers and listeners to play detective. First, a double page spread questions what we might find in a given location (including ‘Granny’s beach bag”, your coat pocket and bedroom wall), before we turn the page to find recognisable treasure; old bus tickets, pieces of lego, bits of plastic toy, string, the odd coin, a dirty tissue or two. The prediction game alone is great fun, but Martins has made it even more enjoyable by sneaking in some unexpected items, by posing extra questions which get you to go back and look again at what you’ve found, by making connections which link the different handfuls of bits and pieces pulled up and out into the daylight from where they’ve been gathering those little bits of crud which get stuck under your fingernails.

Replete with opportunities for discussion, laughter and moments of satisfaction (not only from recognition but also as a result of successful discoveries and problem solving), this is a delightful book, with bold and stylish illustrations, which will appeal across a wide age range, and especially to any children who love to collect and hoard, to classify and arrange their special things.



I don’t have a handbag as such, but I never leave the house without my rucksack…




Here’s my kitchen counter; can you spot the samovar, bag of pistachios, and kitchen waste waiting to go to the allotment compost bin?





Somehow showing what is inside my fridge seems like baring my soul!

Can you spot what really shouldn't be in the fridge??
Can you spot what really shouldn’t be in the fridge??

Music which could go well with What’s Inside? includes:

  • Living Inside of a Jar by Jim Gill. I had never come across “bottle plucking” before but now I have a very strong urge to try and set up a glass orchestra like Gill’s….
  • Livin’ In The Fridge by “Weird Al” Yankovic (a parody of “Livin’ On The Edge” by Aerosmith)
  • The Handbag Song by This is Jinsy. Totally Surreal.

  • Other activities which you could enjoy alongside reading What’s Inside? include:

  • Checking out what’s inside and down the back of your sofa, inspired by Tim Hopgood’s Big Blue Sofa (see our post here)
  • Playing the tray memory game.
  • Creating a museum of clutter (and thereby getting the kids to tidy up bits and pieces stuffed in various nooks and crannies): Get the kids to empty out some of those spaces where things invariably get stuffed (like behind the bed) and lay it out like a museum, labelling the treasure that has been found.

  • What’s inside your fridge? Go on! Share a picture on Twitter or via the Playing by the book Facebook page 🙂

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of What’s Inside from its UK publisher.

    17 Responses

    1. se7en

      Hay there… Love this post. What a fantastic book, exactly the sort we love. And why on earth is that in your refrigerator? It is nearing the end of the month so ours is pretty much empty… I take that back, on closer inspection, there are thirty water bottles chilling in it. My gang clearly have big plans for our daily walk tomorrow and I can safely forget a seaside amble. This is going to be a hike!!!
      se7en recently posted..And Just Like that I am off to Zambia to Plant Trees with GreenPop…


      This is one of the best posts yet. I have to admit, Zoes’s bag, kitchen bench and fridge look cleare than mine usually does though I do live in a house of six). And you have Shaun Tan’s Eric on the door. Perfect.
      I believe creatives have bags of Stuff more often than not but there will never me beards of any hue / = .

    3. Even in Australia

      I love Isabel Minhos Martins. My math- and human-body loving 7yo loves her book At Our House, which discusses how many noses, bones, etc. are at “our house” – a household with several humans and at least one non-human.
      Even in Australia recently posted..Let’s Mock Testing

    4. Claire Potter

      LOVE the concept of the is book – I am a big fan of ‘found objects’ wherever they are found – even down the back of my own sofa. There is/was a second-hand bookshop in Brighton that displayed everything they found inside books that were given to them – photos, shopping lists, etc … fascinating. And my friend’s sister runs a ‘found objects’ museum in Edinburgh. Yes, I may have to get this book for my daughter!

      P.S. Yes, opening your fridge is in many ways like baring your soul. At least your fridge is clean!!!
      Claire Potter recently posted..Humanize the streets: Go googly-eyeing

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