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Children's Fiction Alternative Family

Outside In

by (author) Sarah Ellis

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2014
Alternative Family, Friendship, Girls & Women
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 13
  • Grade: 5 to 8
  • Reading age: 10 to 13


Lynn’s life is full — choir practice, school, shopping for the perfect jeans, and dealing with her free-spirited mother. Then one day her life is saved by a mysterious girl named Blossom, who introduces Lynn to her own world and family — both more bizarre, yet somehow more sane, than Lynn’s own.

Blossom’s family is a small band of outcasts and eccentrics who live secretly in an ingenious bunker beneath a city reservoir. The Underlanders forage and trade for the things they need (“Is it useful or lovely?”), living off the things “Citizens” throw away. Lynn is enchanted and amazed. But when she inadvertently reveals their secret, she is forced to take measure of her own motives and lifestyle, as she figures out what it really means to be a family, and a friend.

Classic Sarah Ellis, this novel is smart, rich, engaging and insightful.

About the author

Sarah Ellis is one of Canada's most-loved children's writers. A former librarian, she is a highly sought-after children's book reviewer, literary jury member and speaker who lectures internationally on Canadian children's books. She is the winner of the Governor General's Award (Pick-Up Sticks), the Mr. Christie's Award (Out of the Blue and The Several Lives of Orphan Jack) and the Sheila A. Egoff Award (The Baby Project, Back of Beyond and Odd Man Out). Further accolades for Odd Man Out include the prestigious TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List, ALA Notable Book for Older Readers, Maine State Library Cream of the Crop List and OLA Best Bets - Top 10 Fiction for Children. Sarah Ellis has also won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. Sarah is on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sarah Ellis' profile page


  • Commended, Bank Street's Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Short-listed, Red Maple Award for Fiction
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Award (Novel)
  • Commended, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year
  • Commended, The Globe 100
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens

Editorial Reviews

A thoughtful, exciting read that makes everything ordinary suddenly have the possibility to be extraordinary.

School Library Journal

More than a thoughtful ode to found family, this slim, sweet novel challenges readers to look anew at the ones they have.


This is a thought-provoking tale that will hopefully inspire as well as delight its readers.

CM Magazine

Ellis is simultaneously a knotty and substantive writer and one with a light, conversational style . . .[A]n excellent book for discussion, eliciting lively partisanship on the question of what’s right and wrong.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Appealing and provocative, this challenges readers to assess their own lives, bringing up compelling issues as wide-ranging as the ills of consumerism and the obligations of friendship.


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