Mirror by Jeannie Baker

65861099Lynn: I’m feeling a little frantic about getting some of my top picks for the year blogged before THE big youth award announcements.  Cindy and I didn’t do lists of our top picture books this year but if we had Mirror (Candlewick, Nov. 2010) would have been on mine!  This is a stunningly designed and illustrated book and one that begs to be read over and over.  The book opens to reveal two separate sections  – two separate and distinct stories that mirror each other.  The left hand section is set in Australia and tells about the day in the life of small boy and his family.  On the right, and reading in the appropriate direction for Arabic,  is a story of another boy and his family in Morocco.  One family creates a beautiful rug, transports it by donkey to the market in a distant village.  The other purchases a beautiful rug at a large store, takes it home by car and installs it in a home they appear to be renovating.  The families are connected in many ways, different but the same, and each time through the book reveals more connections, more aha moments for readers.

Baker illustrates her book with photographs of her beautifully constructed collages.  She used a combination of artificial and natural ingredients such as sand, vegetation, paper and fabrics.  The details in each scene are astonishingly intricate.  The fascinating final page of each section tells about the idea for the book and how it was created.

The focus group and I were completely absorbed by this book and the reading experience was truly unique.  Quite literally from cover to cover, this is a gem of a book.

Cindy: Lynn composed her section of this blog yesterday from wintry, snowy, blustery, COLD Michigan and I am writing mine today from sunny (sort of), warm (sort of) San Diego as the ALA Midwinter Meetings get underway. What a perfect arrangment for the blogging of this mirrored setting book! I have always been a fan of collage art and Baker’s is stunning. The scenes are detailed and intricate, composed of many natural materials that bring these disparate settings to life. I feel like I could walk into these scenes and join the families in their daily activities.

Teachers looking for multicultural literature will delight in using this in their classrooms, particularly if they have access to a visual presenter to share the illustrations on a large screen. Guaranteed, students will be lining up for individual close-up readings of this uniquely designed books. It would be great to pair up children to turn and read each side of the book as a team. We were doing just that on the plane last night and our seat mate, a public library director from Illinois was intrigued by what we were reading.  Pairs of students could then create their own mirrored family life stories to share with the class. Mirrors is a wonderful reflection of the differences and similarities that exist between cultures.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

3 Comments on "Mirror by Jeannie Baker"

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  1. katecoombs@sbcglobal.net' Kate Coombs says:

    I keep hearing about this one and now I’m dying to get my hands on a copy–thanks!

  2. edspicer@mac.com' Ed Spicer says:


    You won’t be sorry! This book is genius! I am only sorry that I did not get this one until after nominations had closed for Notables. I hope it finds a wide audience. I have already purchased one for my classroom and one for a student going to Morocco to work with special ed students (how perfect!).

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