Books on the Bed: The Man Who Took the Indoors Out

Title: The Man Who Took the Indoors Out

Author: Arnold Lobel

Pub Date: 1974

Status: Out of Print

Number nine on the list of My 21 Most Influential Books, The Man Who Took the Indoors Out is incredibly difficult to find, and is not even listed on Caldecott Medal winner Arnold Lobel’s Wikipedia page. This obscure little picture book was something we must have checked out on a long-ago library card, because I did not own a copy until a few years ago, when my mother hunted it down for my bookshelf.

The man mentioned in the title has a lovely house full of lovely furniture and lovely things…but those lovely things are bored from sitting around the house all day. So the furniture asks the man if he might let them out to play for the day. The man does. The furniture is happy and dancing and having a great time. When it starts to get dark, the man tells everything that it’s time to go back inside, but the furniture has other ideas. Having now tasted freedom, the chairs and vases and paintings and sofa and piano take to the hills, leaving their poor owner in the dust.

The man is very sad, alone in his empty house. It is a very dark and stormy night, and the man is worried. Then there is a small knock. The man opens his door to find his furniture — somewhat worse for the wear — has returned home. It is dirty and worn and wet and more than slightly embarrassed, but the man couldn’t be happier to have his good friends back. He welcomes them all back in and they live happily ever after.

I’m sad that this little tale has disappeared into the bowels of the literary machine, because it had some great messages. It was all about love and acceptance, setting things free and valuing happiness over material goods. It was about loneliness and shame and fear and going to far. It was about doing what’s in your heart and having it all work out in the end.

I always carry pictures of dancing furniture in my heart and know that, no matter how far away my loveseat runs from me — or I run from it — we will be reunited one day if we’re meant to.