Friday, December 10, 2010
by Jeannie Baker
Candlewick; Bilingual edition, 2010. 48 pages. Picture book.
The cover of "Mirror" gives you a clue to the amazing and clever book(s) that is inside. The front shows a nighttime scene of a neighborhood in Australia with a young boy sitting in a window, the Sydney skyline in the background. If you turn the book over, there is another skyline and a young boy sitting in a window at night, but this neighborhood is in the Valley of Roses in Morocco. When you open the cover from either the front or the back, you find two books--one that opens from the left and one that opens from the right. Without words, they tell parallel stories of a day in the lives of two families, one that lives in Morocco and one that lives in Australia. As you go through the books--they are designed so that you can turn the pages simultaneously to see the contrasts and similarities each family experiences--you can see that despite different cultures and environments, there are things that connect us to each other and that are the same no matter where we live.
This message is great, but the way it is presented is what makes "Mirror" so stunning. Each page is an incredible and amazingly detailed collage of various natural and artifical materials including sand, clay, paint, fabric, wool, vegetation, tin and paper. To make it even more interesting and rich, all the text (such as the title, introduction, and end notes) that is included on the Moroccan side is written in beautiful Arabic. You will love the texture and beauty of this book.