Jeannie Baker is a well known artist and children’s book author/illustrator. Her most recent book is Mirror, which today was announced as the joint winner of the Picture Book of the Year. Well deserved it is too.
Some of our students will be like me and love it from its design point of view. The cover opens and we see two stories, each one mirroring the other. The left hand side introduction is written in English, and the family depicted, through collage, is from Sydney, Australia. The right hand side has the same introduction, but written in Arabic and the young boy in this part of the story lives in Morocco with his family. We are told that each of the stories are designed to be read side by side.
Jeannie Baker’s books are quite often wordless, and this one is no exception. Apart from the initial introduction telling readers that the two families, although different and in different parts of the world, still have some things that are the same. As we open each of the stories, we can explore the illustrations to see just how different, but how similar, these families, and indeed families all over the world, are.
Visually there is much to explore as readers move through a day in Sydney and Morocco with these two boys and their families. Baker’s collage work is stunning, and the original pieces have been touring Australia, visiting many art galleries around the country. I particularly love her artwork in the Morrocan part of the story. The landscape is wonderful, and we can see red sand and rock in some spreads, with lush green crops growing for the family’s food. The market scene is another that I love. One has his seeds and spices set on the ground in sacks, which another has vegetables spread out ready to sell. The visual literacy that could be developed as students, or indeed adults, pore through each of the stories, is endless. There is always something new to find.
The video below might help you to understand the design of the book better, and it certainly gives you a taste of the illustrations you will find.
You might enjoy reading a review of Mirror, and also a blog post chatting with Jeannie Baker. There’s also an ABC radio podcast where you can hear an interview of Jeannie Baker discussing Mirror. Finally go to Jeannie Baker’s website to get further information about her and her books. Dates and venues for the travelling exhibition of Mirror are listed here too.
Please note that this blog post has been cross posted on my other blog which further explores picture books.