Stranger in the Mirror

Allen Say, Author
Allen Say, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-61590-4
Reviewed on: 10/30/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-395-93883-6
Prebound-Other - 32 pages - 978-0-606-15724-7
Open Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-34732-5
Ebook - 32 pages - 978-0-547-77218-9
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A child's unrest over the departure of his grandfather sparks the Caldecott Medalist's provocative new story, which begins with Sam gripped by the thought of ``how small Grandpa had looked waving good-bye.'' Grandpa's destination is not revealed, but it's not a pleasant one. So when the boy awakens the next day to find that he has the face of an elderly man, he worries that he, too, will be sent away, ``you know, where Grandpa went.'' At school, Sam is teased by classmates and shunned by friends. Baffled and hurt, he is in the process of running away when a skateboard lands at his feet. He takes off on it, impressing a playground of kids with his tricky maneuvers. Tired, the man-child returns home and, talking to himself, utters words that cut to the core of the story: ""Who cares what I look like? I'm Sam. Nobody can change that."" Once this valuable if obvious message is delivered, Say returns Sam to his youthful self, camouflaging the transformations by implying that Sam has been dreaming. More affecting than the text's messages about outer appearances and inner truth, and clearer than the undercurrents about perceptions of the aged, are Say's hauntingly realistic paintings, which simultaneously present a convincing likeness of an old man's face on a boy's body and an equally effective sense of the confusion and betrayal Sam is experiencing within. All ages. (Oct.)
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