Review Blog

Nov 01 2010

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

cover image

Walker Books, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4063-0914-0.
(All ages) Highly recommended. The book starts with the words:
'There are two boys and two families in this book. One family lives in a city in Australia. And one lives in Morocco, North Africa. The lives of the two boys and their families look very different from each other and they are different. But some things connect them, just as some things are the same for all families no matter where they live.'
The book then divides into two books, one opening from the left and one from the right, that are meant to be read simultaneously. The reader is immediately drawn into the everyday world of the two boys and their families. The reader is fascinated by a double page spread for each illustrating their day. The children get up, have a meal and father goes off to work and so on. At the end the two families are united by the beautiful rug that the Moroccan family have woven and which the Western family has purchased. For all the differences between how the two families live, it is the similarities that will draw the reader back to the pages, realising that that it is the love of a family that is what is important, and that love exists no matter where their community or home. As Baker says, 'inwardly we are so alike it could be each other we see when we look in a mirror.'
Of course, as readers who are familiar with Baker's wonderful collages know, it is the illustrations, as well as the thought provoking ideas about culture and love, that make this book stand out. The pictures made from sand and cloth, paper and tin are superb, each one finely detailed and beautiful.
This is an outstanding book, both for how it extends our understanding of the world and another culture, but for the sheer beauty of the illustrations and design. It is sure to be featured in many awards.
Pat Pledger

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