Mirror, by Jeannie Baker

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

I’ve been a fan of Jeannie Baker’s amazing collage artwork and stunning picture books for years. Once again Jeannie has come up with what is a brilliant and unique picture book that takes us into the lives of two very different boys and their families. One is an Australian family in Sydney and the other a Moroccan family in the Valley of Roses.

The colour and detail makes this a stunning book that highlights the differences between the lifestyles of the two families. It gives insights into a life that will be familiar to many of us and one that is not familiar. Yet I loved the modern example of the mobile phone near the TVs on the Moroccan market page with its vegetables and grains laid out on the ground around which people, sheep and chooks wander.

I can’t imagine the hours and hours of work that have gone to make up this incredible collages constructed initially on wooden baseboard to which were added sand, earth, clay, paints, fabric, wool, plastic, vegetation and tin. The completed collages, Jeannie says, were preserved and coloured and then photographed with the reproduced images appearing in the book.

While I understand the logical idea of why it is set out as it is, my one quibble is that because of this layout where each text opens out from the centre, it is awkward to handle. I found it best to be able to open it on a flat surface rather than to try and hold it in the hands. That small quibble aside, this is a stunning and amazingly crafted picture book that is sure to delight many in homes, schools and libraries and feature in the next CBCA awards.

Just maybe it might make people realise that though many things are different, some things are the same no matter where the family lives.

Mirror, by Jeannie Baker
Walker Books, 2010
RRP $39.95

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe
Dale’s latest books are Lights, Camera, Action and Saltspray Idol.
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