STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by Allen Say

STRANGER IN THE MIRROR

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 8 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

Thinking about his grandfather, Sam decides that he doesn't want to grow old--but he wakes up the next morning with an old man's face. His parents are shocked, the doctors are amazed, his schoolmates jeer. Isn't he the same Sam inside? He grabs a skateboard to prove it, and wakes up the next morning with his familiar, unlined kid's face back. Though not as spare as Grandfather's Journey (1993), this has been pared down considerably, sometimes to the point of confusion (Where has the grandfather gone? Is this a dream or not?), and a mastery of skateboard tricks isn't the most convincing peg on which to hang a sense of self. Elegant lines, clean curves, and uncluttered backgrounds give Say's paintings a tidy, controlled look that works better in the first half (scenes of people with astonished looks) than in the second (Sam on the skateboard). The artist's flair with facial expressions wavers at the end; it's hard to tell whether Sam is laughing, crying, shouting, or sneezing. Readers willing to dig deeply may find here a protest against marginalizing the elderly; most will see it as a transformation story, more stridently earnest than David Small's Imogene's Antlers (1985), Arthur Yorinks's Louis the Fish (1980), or Anthony Browne's entire oeuvre. (Picture book. 8+)
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-395-61590-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1995




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