3—Activities for Mirror
Mirror shows a day in the lives of two boys and their families. One family lives in inner-city Sydney, Australia and the other lives in a small, remote village in Morocco, North Africa.
Display the book and, before reading, explain to the students that this book is to be read simultaneously, one page from the left, the other from the right. Ask the students if they may be able to give a reason for this. Students familiar with Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Urdu, which are written from right to left, may be able to provide an explanation now or later in the book.
The stylised script in the illustration of the school in Whoever You Are shows a similar script. This script is seen in Mirror.
Predicting storybook content
As a class, look at the covers, title in English and Arabic, and the dedication in Mirror. Ask students to suggest what clues about the story the covers give to the reader.
Look at the cover. Can the students predict the characters from the cover. Questions might include:
- What else is on the cover? The moon is depicted in a circular shape rather than the crescent. What could this symbolise? Mention again that the circle is an ancient symbol of unity and wholeness.
- What clues do we get about the story by looking at the cover?
Ask students to comment on the illustrations and layout in the book. Do they consider that the author’s collages add to the story? For example, note how the relationship between characters can be depicted in illustrations, through such things as:
- positioning of the characters (for example facing each other or facing away from each other)
- distance between them
- relative size
- one character looking up (or down) at the other (power relationships)
- facial expressions and body gestures.
Observe how images construct a relationship with the viewer by things such as the direct gaze into the viewer's eyes, inviting involvement, and how close-up images are more engaging than distanced images, which can suggest alienation or loneliness.
Do students have an opinion of a story that does not use words to tell the story?
Ask the students to identify significant features in the illustrations such as carpet, moon, stars or technology.
Read the introductory words which explain that the reader will see the parallel lives of the two families, the differences and the similarities and what connects the families.
Introduce the meaning of parallel lines and parallel lives.
The message in the book is that even with all these differences we are all the same. Our lives mirror the lives of others.
Ask students to identify the common threads between the lives of the characters in Morocco and Sydney and, with empathy, express their opinions on the commonalities and differences.
If there is an Arabic speaker available, ask them to read the introductory words in Arabic. Ask the students to listen for the different sounds in Arabic compared to English.
Point out that Arabic does not use capital letters. Ask students to write a sentence without using capital letters and then the same sentence using capitals in appropriate places. Can they explain the benefits or otherwise of using capital letters?
On a map locate Morocco and Sydney.
Morocco is in northern Africa. Explain to students that Africa is a large continent and many of their preconceptions of Africa may not apply to Morocco, its people, landscape and culture. Mirror is set in southern Morocco in the Valley of Roses.
Ask students to tell each other what they think Africa is like. List these comments.
After reading Mirror
After reading Mirror return to this list and alongside this ask students to list their impressions of northern Africa. Compare and discuss.
Using the virtual images on Google Earth, show students the Valley of the Roses and ANZAC Bridge and Victoria Road, Rozelle.
Ask the students to form pairs and choose corresponding pictures from Mirror, one from Sydney and the other from Morocco. Each student should silently examine what is happening in the picture and then come together to discuss similarities, differences and purposes.
Ask the students to draw pictures of the items on their pages and beside them write the name, or noun.
Ask the students to develop two timelines of the day represented in the book, one for Morocco and one for Sydney. They should draw or write descriptions of the sequential happenings in the day. Ask the students to conclude with a comment about the similarities and differences they see.
The carpet appears in both the Australian and Moroccan pages, as a unifying image. Tell students that flying carpets are featured in many folk tales. After reading aloud and reviewing a folk tale featuring a flying carpet, assign one event or scene to a pair of students and ask them reproduce the event as a picture, just as Jeannie Baker has done in Mirror. Their pictures could be combined to produce a wordless wall story or book.