Friday, August 10, 2012


written and illustrated by Jeannie Baker
Candlewick Press | November 2010

Pull up to the kitchen table with Mirror. You'll need to spread out. On the verso (left), an English introduction and on the recto (right), the same in Arabic. Open each side so now there's a four-page-wide spread in front of you. The title page greets you, in English and Arabic respectively. Turn again and the directions appear, explaining: "The Western and Moroccan stories in this book are designed to be read side by side."

And so the adventure that is Mirror begins. The book is entirely wordless, employing pictures to tell the stories. Baker's intricately created art, which is some of the most amazing collage I've ever seen, speaks volumes and tells the stories beautifully. Hunting for the parallels between the boys' lives in Australia and Morocco can last for hours. The details in the illustrations can take the reader in as many directions as they choose. The message that Baker intends, that we are more alike than different no matter how far away we may live or how differently we live, is loud and clear.

This is the perfect book for small children who can't read yet, but can read pictures as they can spend time with this book on their own. And I'd venture to guess they might notice and "read" a lot more in the illustrations than some of us adults might.

The back matter, again presented in both English and Arabic, explains Baker's inspiration for the book and how she made the art.

There is no other book quite like Mirror. Look inside. You'll see.

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