Mirror Play is an invitation to engage. Each page has an abstract rotating shape. When combined with the mirror and rotated, these shapes transform into frogs, pandas, planes and more. Initially this seems like a simple book – there is no narrative to speak of, the illustrative style is bold and clear with lots of negative space. The aesthetic feels a little off in places – I can’t reconcile the irregular font of the question marks, or their placement, with the bold, clear font of the text. This friction suggests there is something else at play here.This is not a book about the beauty of words, or illustration.
And yet this book demands to be ‘read’ by children. It provides information to decode, and made sense of. Images are presented without hints, so the reader can slowly make sense of the process. Subsequent pages ask whether you found the hidden shape, giving the reader the opportunity to go back and try again. The final page has the objects arranged in a grid, with their names written over them. The use of mirror is fascinating in this context, and brings to mind issues with reversals and spatial reasoning that begin to emerge as children are taught to read words. Monte Shin works as a Game Developer, and studies mathematics and there is a definite feeling of deep learning here – not just motor skills and shape recognition, but of exploration, experimentation and creativity.
Mirror Play is a fascinating, thoughtful and revelatory book for children from preschool upward.