Thank you for your patience while I'm transitioning to a new site design and format. The process is taking longer than I expected. I really can't put a time frame on it at this point.
In the meantime, I'd like to expand upon the theme of embracing uniqueness, and the ability to see beyond the weaknesses we all have. It's a subject that's so important for people of all ages, but especially for children.
So today, I'm sharing not 2, but 4 very different picture books relating to mirrors, which remind us of the many different ways the simple act of reflection can open up the windows of our lives. I hope you enjoy reading and thinking about them, along with a child.
A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection, by Jane Yolen (author) and Jason Stemple (photographer) harnesses the powerful combination of animals, nature, and words. The stunning photographs will pull even the youngest reader in, and will leave even the oldest one thinking. Combined with Jane Yolen's beautiful, rhythmic poems, and a few simple facts about each animal, this picture book will have you connecting all kinds of dots long after you put it away.
Nature has always been the place one immerses oneself in when there is thinking to do, and animal behavior always has a way of peaking a child's curiosity. We can learn so much about ourselves through animals, as our many fables have reminded us over time. There are so many you could pair this one with! Enjoy.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, by Marilyn Singer (author) and Josee Masse (illustrator) is a very clever picture book indeed! Its pictures and words are literally divided in two, to emphasize the fact that there are two sides to every story.
Just as mirrors can reveal to us a lot about our inner and outer worlds, a "reverso" is a poem (created by this author) that can be read from top to bottom AND from the bottom from the top. Her very first one was inspired by her cat, and went like this:
A cat Incomplete:
without A chair
a chair: without
Incomplete. a cat.
How fascinating, huh? I wish I knew about this book when I was teaching. It would have brought those poetry units to life! How much fun these would be for children of all ages (and adults) to write, especially since they are based upon fairy tale characters.
Anything we can do to help children see things from multiple points of view is a wonderful thing. So, I wish every child could spend some time with a pen, some colored pencils, lined and blank paper, an open mind, and both of the above books.
I've said this so many times before, but picture books-in-print are such powerful, yet underappreciated, learning tools around. May they live on forever, in spite of Seth Godin's prediction that books-in-print would be history in 5 years (NO - NOT picture books!!!!). The thought of having our choices limited makes me angry. Anyway....
Mirror, by Jeannie Baker, is definitely a (mostly) wordless book that would not be the same on a screen. It's unique in its presentation of two side by side stories (in two languages). One follows a day in the life of an Australian family, and the other follows a day in the life of a North African family.
Two very different cultures. Two very different ways of life.
And yet, both are similar is so many ways.
Like Mem Fox's Whoever You Are, we are reminded of how similar we are on the inside, even though we may appear to be so different on the outside. Same theme, two very different books.
The collages in this book will prompt much discussion. That's the gift of wordless books - when you are not bound by words, you can take your time to think aloud and talk. Please note that this book is better for paired reading, or small groups, since the pages of each story need to be synchronized. It would be hard to use as a read-aloud, unless you have some help in holding the pages!
It would be helpful to have a map handy for this one, and perhaps a trip to the library to seek out nonfiction relating to the two cultures would be in order.
One of the things I love most about picture books is how they bring a world of culture into our homes.
Mirror, by Suzy Lee (author of the another gorgeous wordless book, Wave), is a somewhat more personal and serious children's book. As the author brings a wide range of emotions to life through black and white sketches (with a few splashes of color) of a girl looking in a mirror, it could open the doors of communication between parents and children.
It's hard enough for children to identify their emotions, but speaking about them may not be easy, either. Any tool that could make it easier for them to open up should be treasured. And so, I think this one could bridge that gap, especially for parents and their tween daughters. I hope it does for you.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
What does your child see in you?
In our busy lives, sometimes we don't take time out to really look at ourselves. We make sure we look our best on the outside, but we may not take the best care of our inside selves.
It happens to be Valentine's Day, and you've probably been thinking of everyone else today. But what about you? What you will do today - this week - this month - this year - to honor the beauty you hold inside?
Whatever it may be, send it with love.