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Mirror Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 4—In Window (1991) and Home (2004, both Greenwillow), Baker combined a concept, her signature collages, and a wordless format to underscore environmental issues. Mirror illuminates the common humanity beneath the surface of cultural differences. In a clever design, two sets of bound signatures face one another, the gatherings reversed from their normal location inside the spine; readers manipulate the two openings simultaneously. In parallel narratives, two boys awaken in the moonlight, accompany their fathers on an errand, and return home. In the story on the left, the destination is a hardware emporium in Sydney, Australia. Materials for an indoor fireplace are purchased and put in a van. The right side occurs in Morocco. Father and son mount a donkey and travel a long distance to sell a hand-woven rug and buy a computer at the market. After a family dinner, they turn it on and the Australians settle onto a fireside carpet matching the one in the other story. The size, shape, and number of the panels in one story are reflected in the other, a choice that assists with comparison. English and Arabic paragraphs introduce the visual narratives. A diagram indicates the right-to-left orientation of the Moroccan story. Baker's skill in orchestrating fabric, vegetation, clay, and other materials into scenes with the proper scale and convincing depth is a wonder to behold. The author's notes hint at her purpose and process. A fresh take on a timely and timeless message.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

This quiet, inventive, mostly wordless picture book follows two boys on opposite sides of the world through a single day, highlighting the differences and universalities in their lives. Meant to be read simultaneously, the stories appear side by side as separate mini-books bound within the same covers, while brief, introductory lines of text in English and Arabic introduce the boys, one in urban Australia and one in rural Morocco. The wordless accounts begin in strict parallel, with pages subdivided into symmetrical scenes of each boy�s family life, from breakfast to daytime excursions and finally to supper. Baker allows her stories to unfold naturally, and the cultural connections never feel forced; the boys investigate a curiosity at the market or remember a younger sibling, each in his own way. That sense of verisimilitude gives a depth to the simple, common experiences, which resonate across pages and cultures. In disparate, detailed landscapes rendered in her trademark style of three-dimensional, mixed-media collage, Baker creates a moving reminder of what we all share. Preschool-Grade 3. --Thom Barthelmess

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Bilingual edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763648485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763648480
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.6 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By SeaShell on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've become something of a wordless book junkie. I bring tons of them home for the kids and, as with other books, some hit the mark and some miss it. This one hit, but just barely.

Here's what we liked about it: The way the two stories, a life in Australia and a life in Morocco are presented, side-by-side with a similar story line, was ingenious. I love that the Moroccan story works right-to-left, just as it would were it written in Arabic, and the Australian story works left-to-right as in English. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story told through the pictures is an interesting one, to be sure.

Now my reservations: For my child, who is 4, the story line was a bit difficult to follow. It could have been the difficulty of following 2 story lines at once (he was similarly confused by Black and White, which has 4 concurrent story lines), or just the foreigness of the Moroccan story, or maybe the real issue was me and my desire for him to see the story as the author intended. At any rate, I found myself telling him the story to a greater extent than I normally do with wordless picture books. And maybe it is for that reason that he seemed far less interested in this book than he has been in his favorite wordless picture books. If you are using the book as a tool to help develop a child's storytelling skills, this may not be the best one out there. But as a way to learn a bit about the similarities and differences between two very different cultures, it is terrific!

ETA: A quick update - I've since read this book with older brother, who is almost 7. He was just the perfect age for it! He was able to follow the two stories simultaneously, and compare the pictures on each side of the page.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
An urban household in Australia wakes up to a new day and gets ready for the usual activities of work and play. A different rural household in Morocco, a country in northern Africa, also engages in their daily rituals to get ready for the new day. The activities of both families involve traveling to work, buying and selling items in the marketplace, and relaxing together at night. But the settings in which these activities occur differ markedly, with a car-ride through congested highways to reach the hardware superstore in Australia, and a donkey-ride through the barren landscape to reach the distant outdoor market in Morocco.

Mirror uses contrasting side-by-side visual images to highlight differences in economic development and social norms in an Australian city and a remote Moroccan village. Making the book unique is the use of Arabic as well as English to communicate the narrative, as well as a stunning display of collages made with materials such as sand, clay, fabric, and tin. This sophisticated art work stands on its own to communicate an important lesson about differences and commonalities across countries.
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Format: Hardcover
I stumbled onto this at the library and picked it up because I love the concept. The book is marked as being for kids ages 4 to 8. My older daughter is about four and a half and generally likes books above her age level. Unfortunately, however, I couldn't get her interested in this one. She really didn't understand it even with quite a bit of explanation from me. Perhaps in another year or so we'll check it out and try it again.

Anyway, the concept and the work involved are quite amazing. The book shows a day in the life of each of two families, one from Australia and one from Morocco. The Australian family's story is told on the left side of the book and is read from left to right (as in standard English), while the Moroccan family's story is told on the right side of the book and is read from right to left (as in standard Arabic). The only words are on the front covers which gives a brief explanation of the story (the left side in English, the right side in Arabic), and an explanation at the end of the author's process. The story itself consists entirely of pictures.

Both stories open with pictures of night-time and early morning in their respective places. Both stories proceed through the day as father and son journey together into "town" to take care of business and then return home to the family setting in the evening. Both sides show details of daily living such as meals, chores and family life.

The Australian father and son are shown driving into a crowded metropolitan area to go to a hardware store to fix their fireplace. They then stop at a "magic carpet" store and pick out a carpet. In the evening, they roll out their new carpet in front of the fireplace and the boy draws a picture of a flying carpet in the desert.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a sight to behold with Baker's wonderful sculpture-like collages of various materials. I am a fan of paper sculpture and Baker adds wonderfully more detail, depth, and texture. I found this in our local library and selected it because my 7 yr old son loves to learn foreign languages. It has the Moroccan writing (Arabic?) equivalent on the opposite opening page. This book tells two stories simultaneously: one Australian and one from Morocco. My son and I read them together, I "read" (the wordless pictures of) the Australian story on the left, then he followed me by reading the Moroccan story on the right, getting used to reading it right to left in order like their culture. I am amazed at the artistry of the book and appreciate her comments of wanting to be loved and part of a family and community in the back. Thanks Ms. Baker, the Australian Council, and the publishers for making the book!
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