An unusual look at life

TITLE = EVERY DAY

AUTHOR = DAVID LEVITHAN

GENRE = FANTASY, RELATIONSHIPS, IDENTITY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10-12

A fascinating and intriguing story with quite an original premise: that a central character inhabits the body and life of a different person each day of his/her life. The amazing thing is that this character (eventually described as “A”) has been “living” life in this way for all 16 years of his/her life and quite satisfied until he falls in love.

Suddenly there is a desire to be in the same place for more than a day and to present the inner being rather than the façade of others. But can this be done? Is there indeed a inner person (as distinct from the many parts that have been played) and is A asking too much of the bject of his affections? Especialy when she is already in a relationship (with Justin, the character who A inhabited in the opening chapter)

Whilst partly about this romantic entanglement, on a broader level this novel asks the reader to ponder the different lives of others. If A can inhabit both males and females with equanimity, what does this say abot the supposed difference between the two genders? Or has As life experience simply cfreated enviable tolerance?

Cleary this story is an opportunity for David Levithan to offer snippets of stories about different types of people: those suffereing depression, those who are determinedly nasty, those in gay relationships, those in staright relationships. Levithan’s craft is that he offers these stoies without slipping into stereotypes or becoming overly didactic (although he skims danegerously close at times). But so often we care about these cahracters and their lives and we gorw to care about A – cos of the way he repsonds to the chaarcaters whom he inhabits – generally caring. But he is not flawless – as in his attitude to Justin – may be justifiable but J not as bad as he expected and caoul rightly feel cheated by A.

What really elevates this story is the quality of the writing,. Levithan is able to capture moods and emotions with a breathtakingly simple yet original line eg Sound beomes a word, lonliless of the person left behind when a door slams. Such writing truly delights the reader.

Also, the positive message that permeates the book about the affirmation of kindness and compassion. As A says at the end of the novel – univers won’t be kind to us so we have to be.

An ode to the breadth of humanity yet the simplicity at the core of our existence.

Highly Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A beautifully rich story with a simple truth

MirrorBook_smallTITLE = MIRROR

AUTHOR = JEANNIE BAKER

GENRE = FAMILY, MULTICULTURALISM, LIFESTYLE

INTEREST LEVEL = ALL AGES

This is a truly beautiful book, in conception and in presentation. In fact, this picture book deliberately tells two stories – one is read from inside the left cover of the book and the other is read from inside the right cover. So both stories are opposite each other as you open the book. Both stories focus on a small boy and the daily life of his family; and on the surface there are obvious differences in these stories – different settings, different clothes, different food and transport – for one boy is growing up in Sydney, Australia whilst the other grows up in rural Morocco. However, just as the title suggests, in other ways the stories mirror each other – for both boys have loving families, share meals together and other family activities.

So ultimately the story of this richly crafted book has a simple message: we may live in vastly different places but our lives are mirrors across the world.

As we have come to expect from a Jeannie Baker book, the illustrations built on detailed collages will detail readers and provide hours of enjoyment. If you would like to learn more about Jeannie Baker’s artistry, why not check out her website.

It is no wonder this book has been shortlisted in the CBC Book of the Year 2011 (Picture Book).

Highly Recommended (dma) ******