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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet


Author: Gaiman, Neil & Dave McKean
Originally Published: 2005
Publisher: HarperCollins

Mirrormask Mirrormask is the story of Helena Campbell, a young girl who works at her family’s circus. After a fight with her mother, her mom collapses and has to be rushed to the hospital. On the night of her mother’s operation, Helena wakes up in a new world. A princess in this new world, who looks just like Helena, has used the Mirrormask to switch places with Helena – with dire results to both worlds. Now Helena has to go on a quest to find the Mirrormask herself in order to set everything right again and get back to her own world.

From a reader’s perspective, I did not enjoy this particular Neil Gaiman story as much as I did Coraline or Stardust. From a Graphic Designer’s perspective, it was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read since Lane Smith’s John, Paul, George & Ben. It was positively a delight! It looks like the designer had so much fun. How the font, the size and weight of the type, the baseline all are necessary parts of the telling of the story… I’ve uploaded two of my favourite parts here, because just talking about how awesome it is doesn’t do it justice.


I love how the text is constrasted with each other – black text on a light background to describe the city of light, and the white text on black background for the land of shadows. Look at how oppressive the white on black is – which is exactly what the land of shadows is like. I love how this was continued in the book too. Once Helena and Valentine enter the land of shadows, everything is white text on the black background.

This was my favourite… how the spaces between each word doubles, and so the sentence seems to drag on. It displays perfectly what the sentence is saying. Love it.

I’m in the mood for rewatching the movie at some point now…

Also, for those fellow Canadians… Happy Thanksgiving this weekend! (Mmm Turkey Day!)

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 4:48 pm October 5, 2007.
Category: Children's
Book Author(s):

  • anita


    In response to your question as to what I’m going to read for the RIP challenge?

    Well, I started with Angelica by Arthur Phillips, then I read Blood and Chocolate by Klause, moved on to a couple by Charles de Lint, and am currently reading The Water Mirror. I’ve got Coraline and the Mistress of Art and Death, plus Woman and White… and after reading your blog.. a couple of more…Thanks!

    I made some of my selections from the RIP list.. and others. I’ve found Blood and Chocolate very interesting, esp for a YA selection…


  • Emma

    I need to try this one. It looks really interesting.

  • Rebecca

    RYC: Thanks. They were good, in an austere, healthy way. I like Gaiman a lot, and I think I’ll have to read Mirrormask now that I’ve read what you have to say about it.
    I am way behind on R.I.P. this year, as in I haven’t read any spooky stuff yet, but I plan to begin today.

  • Pardon_My_French

    Interesting post from a Graphic Designer’s perspective! You underlined why there’s more than mere plot to books…

  • Nymeth

    I have not yet read this book, but judging by the movie, I agree that story-wise it is somewhat inferior to the rest of Neil Gaiman’s work. But Dave Mckean definitely adds an extra something to it.

  • Somer

    I’ve only read a handful of Gaiman so far (Coraline, Anansi Boys, and Neverwhere), but I really want to read this! Stardust is on my shelf, and my husband brought home Fragile Things from Borders yesterday. Perfect timing, since I need something new for the RIP II Short Story Sundays!

    I love your layout, by the way!

  • Lisa

    I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. But it looks and sounds interesting! Thank you for uploading those two parts–it was cool to be able to see how it was done. :)

  • dew

    I wish adult books had as much great illustration as kids’ books. Or effects like this light and dark thing. Why do publishers think we’re not longer interested in visuals?