cover image Mirror


Alexandra Day, Christina Darling. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34720-8

Like a present-day Alice, the narrator of this beguiling fantasy travels via the looking-glass. At first, the seven-year-old catches glimpses of movement in her gilt-framed bedroom mirror, which is on loan from her mother's best friend. ""Out of the corner of my eye I swear I saw a real jungle... with tigers and snakes,"" she says. Readers know that she is right, for Day's (the Carl books) detailed paintings reveal the laughing faces and outdoor scenes that appear behind her back. Finally, reverse psychology works: ""I got mad and said out loud, `Oh, you're just a plain old mirror after all!' "" At this, the glass plays funhouse tricks with the girl's reflection (""I guess it really wanted to show off""). In wordless spreads, Day vividly imagines the girl's outwardly ordinary bedroom and the enchanted realms beyond: every night thereafter, the girl gazes into the mirror to ride a white circus horse, view mermaids from a ship's deck, glide on a flying carpet, etc.; the mirror even spells out ""Good Night"" in stars as the narrator sleeps. Throughout, the text from first-time author Darling, Day's daughter, maintains a deceptively conversational tone: like the full-bodied representational art, it starts with a realistic base and whisks in the fantastic elements. A good reflection on this mother/daughter team. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)