Australia

Wordless Wednesday: Mirror by Jeannie Baker

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mirrorMirror

Written & Illustrated by Jeannie Baker

Published by Candlewick on November 9, 2010
Genre/Topics: Wordless, Cultural
Ages: 6+, 48 pages 
 

Two stories and two cultures are told simultaneously in one book. The stories appear side by side as the reader turns the pages at the same time. Mirror follows a typical day of two boys on opposite sides of the world. The stories take place in Sydney, Australia, and Morocco, North Africa. An introduction is provided in English and Arabic at the start of each story. The boys awake, eat breakfast, and travel to town for errands. The left story takes place in Sydney, Australia, and the destination is a hardware store by car on roads. The right story takes place in Morocco, as the boy and his father travel by donkey on a trail to the market. The final pages display the family in Australia, with a new carpet bought on their travel and the family in Morocco, explores their new computer. The two families may appear different, but they mirror each other with common elements found in all families.

I highly enjoyed Mirror. This wordless picture book is a very unique idea how two stories are told at the same time. Mirror really provides the reader with an experience about each boy’s day in their culture. The book’s illustrations are amazing with detailed facial expressions, market foods, car license plates, animals on the trail, carpet designs, and even keyboard keys. You really feel that you are there with the families. The illustrations are photographs of collages. The detailed collages are made with many materials, such as sand, fabric, wool, tin, plastic, paint, clay, and vegetation. I read some criticism about Mirror starting it’s not easy as a read aloud in the classroom. True, it may be difficult to handle the extended pages so perhaps independent or partner reading is best. Besides, you need to examine closely to view all the details. Another criticism was that Mirror displayed cultural stereotypes. Mirror is a great book to introduce children to different lifestyles and cultures even though we share similar traits. I recommend Mirror for older ages to understand the concept and handle the book with care.

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Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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lightThe Light Between Oceans 

Written by M.L. Stedman 
Published by Scribner in July 2012
Genre/Topics: Adult Fiction
343 pages
 

Three Word Review: Thought Provoking, Moral Dilemma, Heartache

Tom Sherbourne recently returns home to Australia, after being away during World War I. He wants to forget the difficulties during the war and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper. He is now completely alone and away from society. He marries and brings his wife, Isabel, back to the island. They encounter numerous stillbirths and Isabel is heartbroken until she hears the distant cries of a baby upon the shore. Tom and Isabel discover a washed ashore boat with a dead man and bundled baby. Isabel pleads for Tom not to report the finding in the official log books. She believes the mother must also be dead and wonders what mother would send a baby on a boat. The two raise the child as their own which is easy to hide the truth from family, since Isabel was recently pregnant and they are away for years at a time. When they return to visit the mainland they discover the truth behind the death and baby. The Light Between Oceans constantly ponders exactly what is morally right at the cost of a loss.

I thought The Light Between Oceans was an interesting plot that I questioned what truly is the right and best choice. I quickly finished this book and I think it would spark a good discussion for book clubs.

A Bellbird in a Flame Tree

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A Bellbird in a Flame Tree

written and illustrated by Kilmeny Niland

Ages 5 & up, 32 pages

Most people know the original version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but this is an Australian version. I had difficulty finding this book on Amazon and I was lucky enough that my library had it. Kilmeny Niland is an award winning artist who lives in Sydney, Australia. I thought this book was educational to learn about different animals. A Bellbird in a Flame Tree can be used to introduce Australian animals and then gather more information about them.

Here is the full list of the animals:

One on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, 
twelve koalas clowning, 
eleven lizards leaping, 
ten dingoes dancing, 
nine numbats knitting, 
eight quokkas cooking, 
seven mice a-marching, 
six penguins peeping, 
five crocodiles, 
four pelicans, 
three lorikeets, 
two wallabies, 
and a bellbird in a flame tree. 
 

Additonal Information about Australian Animals