“There are things that are alive…then there are reflections.” A gypsy girl, a madman, a young boy, and an old man – only one can unlock the secret the spring holds.
Title: The Little Girl Behind the Mirror
Author: Matteo Astone
Translator (English): Leanne McKinnon Young
Illustrator: Loredana Re David
ISBN: 9781979283663 Language: English
Title: La bambina dietro allo specchio Language: Italian / italiano
Themes: friendship, acceptance, faith, identity
What’s it about?
A wanderer imparts a story to the reader about the time he came to the Village – the Village of the Mirror that is. He tells the story of a young gypsy girl who calls herself Scarlett and a strange man called Patapa who talks with ‘squiggels’ and carries a box everywhere. The village though has a sad history, a young child went missing leaving the King and Queen without their only daughter. The longer Scarlett stays – the longer she gets to know those that welcome her and those that shun her – she also gets to know that world around the village – like the Field of Wonders and the spring that is more than meets the eyes because…”there are things that are alive…then there are reflections”.
This is an intriguing tale that has an imperfect protagonist in the sense that she has a milky-coffee spot on her face. Through the story she learns, grows, and faces the truth that she knows but can’t see. There are some very interesting, quirky characters that really breathe life into this story. The sprinkling of illustrations are beautiful and help the reader visualise the characters.
Nothing here today.
Okay, so I had my night all planned out…and then this book came across my path…and what was going to be a quick glance turned into me reading the entire book. So having read the book I thought I may as well put the review up as well.
This book was originally published in Italian and as I have mentioned before in posts books don’t always translate-well but this one I honestly wouldn’t have known was translated if nobody told me – so big thumbs up to the English translator.
I’ve spent the past few weeks mainly immersed in picture books so this one was a lovely change for me. There is something rather beautiful about the way this story is written – something I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The story itself is not exactly straightforward. It begins with the Wanderer arriving in a village and then he tells the story to the reader about Scarlett.
Characters are a huge part of this story. Scarlett is a rather interesting girl who reminded me a bit of Ping in the Dragonkeeper series due to the lack of knowledge of a name or history of who she was. I like that she isn’t perfect….oh how so many books nowadays portrayal ‘perfect’ characters – she is reserved, at times cautious and other times reckless, her appearance is dishevelled, and she has the mark on her face. Her affinity with the spring and the strange, but intriguing, reflections she sees deepen the mystery of the story as your mind tries to connect the dots.
And then there is the odd, but loveable, Patapa. Patapa who is labeled as the ‘madman’ of the village. He has his quirky behaviour – such as a tic that sees his arm move and slap his own bottom – and his affection for his beloved ‘squiggels’.
Supporting characters such as Nini and Hale add youth and age to the story as well. The thing is, in this story all these characters are well thought out and developed which is something I rarely see in books for this age range.
In the classroom there is no way you would get through the book in a lesson – it look me about 90 mins but I’m a seasoned reader and this book deserves more time for young minds to reflect upon it. I would recommend pacing this book at a chapter or two a week. This book has a lot of possibility for character study, story analysis, and reflecting on how the reader connects with the text. There is also the strong theme of identity in this book and how we each perceive ourselves versus how others see us – the reflections that Scarlett sees are an important metaphor that could be used in the classroom to investigate the topic further.
I highly recommend this one for the classroom especially if you are looking to challenge your class to think on a higher level and appreciate stories with deeper meanings.
Special thanks to the author, Matteo Astone, for providing me with a free copy of the book.