cover image Through a Clouded Mirror

Through a Clouded Mirror

Miya T. Beck. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $19.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-323824-4

After stepping through an ancient brass mirror and magically appearing in Heian-era Japan, an outcast 12-year-old must decide whether she wants to return home. Aspiring writer Yuki Snow, who is half Japanese and half white, hates her new life in Santa Dolores, Calif. Her stepfather tries too hard to befriend her, her real best friend doesn’t talk to her anymore, and the kids at her mostly white school think she’s a know-it-all and ignore her. Her only confidante is Momo, the shopkeeper of a Japanese antiques store, home to a mirror supposedly belonging to Japanese writer Sei Sho¯nagon that acts as a portal to her world. When Yuki steps through, a sleek, elegant figure appears—Sho¯nagon herself—and nominates Yuki to participate in a high-stakes poetry contest. In Sho¯nagon’s Japan, Yuki meets like-minded people and finally feels as if her creativity is being seen and appreciated; however, she can’t help but wonder about life back home. Taking inspiration from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Beck (The Pearl Hunter) writes a steadfast, imagery-driven fantasy teeming with Japanese lore. Poetic and punny text and themes of evolving friendships and parental loss ground this fantastical read. Ages 8–12. (May)