The Outside Child, In and Out of the Book is situated at the intersection between children’s literature studies and childhood studies. In this provocative book, Christine Wilkie-Stibbs juxtaposes the narratives of literary and actual children/young adults to explore how Western culture has imagined, defined, and dealt with their outsider status – whether orphaned, homeless, refugee, victims of abuse, or exploited – and how processes of economic, social, or political impoverishment are sustained and naturalized in regimes of power, authority, and domination.
In five chapters titled: "Outsider," "Displaced," "Erased," "Abject," "Unattached," and "Colonized," the book situates and repositions a range of pre- and post-millennium children’s/young adult fictions, autobiographies, policy documents, and reports in the current climate of rabid globalization, new "out-group" definitions, and prescribed normativity. Children’s/young adult fictions considered include: Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses trilogy; Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Jacqueline Wilson’s The Illustrated Mum; Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy; Ann Provoost’s Falling; Meg Rosoff’s, How I Live Now; Elizabeth Laird’s A Little Piece of Ground. Autobiographical works include Zlata Filipovic’s Zlata’s Diary; Kevin Lewis’s The Kid; Latifa’s My Forbidden Face; and Valérie Zenatti’s When I Was a Soldier.