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5.0 1
by Jeannie Baker

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An innovative, two-in-one picture book follows a parallel day in the life of two families: one in a Western city and one in a North African village.

Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own


An innovative, two-in-one picture book follows a parallel day in the life of two families: one in a Western city and one in a North African village.

Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own morning routines and set out to a bustling market. In this ingenious, wordless picture book, readers are invited to compare, page by page, the activities and surroundings of children in two different cultures. Their lives may at first seem quite unalike, but a closer look reveals that there are many things, some unexpected, that connect them as well. Designed to be read side by side — one from the left and the other from the right —these intriguing stories are told entirely through richly detailed collage illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Opening this expertly designed picture book reveals two parallel wordless tales: one to be read left to right, the other right to left. The stories follow a day in the family life of two boys, who live in urban Australia and the Valley of Roses in southern Morocco, respectively, as Baker explains in an afterword, written in English and Arabic. In layered, three-dimensional collages, Baker shows the differences between the families (traveling to an open-air market by donkey versus a trip to a hardware megastore in a Citroën), but it is the underlying commonalities--helping parents, doing chores, caring for pets, sharing meals--that will resonate most. Ages 5–7. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Baker has created a fabulous cross-cultural experience in this picture book. Beginning with an English text introduction, the book tells the wordless story of an Australian family's day. They have breakfast, shop at a hardware store and a "magic carpet" shop. After working all day at home, a carpet is delivered. The family sits on it, admiring the son's picture of them riding it magically above the mountains. Opening the book from the "back," the introductory text and final note are in Arabic. This textless story begins, as Baker tells us, in the Valley of Roses in southern Morocco. We see the finishing of the rug, and the family eating breakfast. The rug is then taken across the desert to be sold in the busy market. With the proceeds the family buys a computer to bring the world into their lives. Baker prepares her collage illustrations to be photographed for printing; they depict the contrasts and similarities in visual culture in a variety of sizes. She gathers natural and artificial raw materials to convert into her realistic textured settings. The urge to examine each collage image is irresistible. The parallels between the families despite the differences are intriguing, as the stories "are designed to be read side by side." Baker adds a note on how she happened to do this book along with details on how she constructs her collages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews

This entirely original book is a strong contender to bring to a desert island, especially as it's two books in one. Open the "books" simultaneously, in English from left to right and in Arabic from right to left. Scan the pictures and compare family life and global interdependence as the panorama of urban and rural scenes from two very different countries unfolds. Wordless, except for an introduction and an illustrator's afterword in English and Arabic, the pictures allow readers to meet an Australian boy and a Moroccan boy whose lives become interconnected. The Moroccan boy and his father sell a rug woven in their rural home, and it ends up in Sydney, in a small house that is being renovated by an Australian family. As the boy in Australia draws a picture of his new "flying carpet," the Moroccan boy sets up his computer, bought with profits from the rug. Baker's entrancing collages, packed with visual information and created with fabric, sand, vegetation and other unusual materials, have the power to bring back child and adult viewers for infinite "readings." Perfectly spectacular. (Picture book. All ages)

Gene Luen Yang
With beautiful, meticulously constructed collage, Baker shows two very different worlds. Her Australian city is filled with words…[her] Moroccan village, on the other hand, is completely wordless…a land of color and texture…Even so, elements of each culture make their way to the other side…Baker…designs her book as an object to be held. By asking readers to flip the pages in different directions for each of her narratives, she speaks to the cultural differences between Australia and Morocco. By placing the narratives side by side, opening toward each other, she highlights their similarities.
—The New York Times
Kristi Jemtegaard
The innovative format makes use of carefully designed layouts, meticulous details and brilliantly colored collages to follow two young boys and their families from sunup to moon-rise…Both are straightforward narratives, but examined side-by-side, they show how our lives intersect and how those connections enrich us all.
—The Washington Post

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.60(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Jeannie Baker is the author and illustrator of a number of children’s picture books, including the award-winning Where the Forest Meets the Sea. Born in England, she now lives in Australia.

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Mirror 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Bassomatic More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful example of how illustration alone can promote understanding between cultures that seem very different yet are very much the same upon closer inspection. Kudos to this Australian author/illustrator who has managed to convey the deeper message of cultural respect and admiration via a short but meaningful pictorial by walking us visually through a day in the life two families from different continents. We're buying at least two more copies as gifts for friends in Morocco and the U.S.