Cover image for No mirrors in my Nana's house
No mirrors in my Nana's house
Barnwell, Ysaye M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1998, p1993]

©1998, ℗1993
Physical Description:
1 audio disc : digital ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 book ([32] pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm)
A girl discovers the beauty in herself by looking into her Nana's eyes.
General Note:
Accompanying book illustrated by Synthia Saint James.

Date on disc, p1993 ; date on book, c1998.

Compact disc.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.7 0.5 32176.
Added Author:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION CD Juvenile Fiction Media Kits
J FICTION CD Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A little girl discovers the beauty in herself--and the beauty of the world around her--not by looking in the mirror, but by looking in her Nana's eyes. Glorious bright pictures by Synthia Saint James show us how to see the beauty, and the accompanying CD of Sweet Honey In The Rock singing the song lets us know how to hear it.Ysaye M. Barnwell--a member of the popular a capella quintet of African American women, Sweet Honey In The Rock--wrote the music as well as the lyrics for the song. This breathtaking hardcover picture book and CD will inspire children and adults alike.

Author Notes

DR. YSAYE M. BARNWELL is best known as a member of Sweet Honey In The Rock, an a capella quintet of African American women. She lives in Washington, D.C. SYNTHIA ST. JAMES wrote and illustrated The Gifts of Kwanzaa and illustrated N eeny Coming, Neeny Going by Karen English, which won a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. She lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. "There were no mirrors in my Nana's house . . . / so the beauty that I saw in everything / the beauty in everything / was in her eyes / like the rising of the sun." A young black girl is inspired by her life in which no mirrors constrict her view of herself and where she is intrigued by the cracks on the walls and "tastes with joy the dust that would fall." The sentiment that children can rise above their environment is reassuring and uplifting; however, several lines take the concept a bit far ("the trash and the rubbish just cushioned my feet"). Saint James illustrates the text in acrylics, but the effect is of collage. Shapes of pure colors become people, furniture, apartment buildings, boom boxes. This wonderfully eye-catching mix will work for individual readers or groups. Barnwell is a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, an a cappella rock group; a CD of their song version of the text is part of the package. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

"A member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the a cappella quintet of African-American women, brings musical cadences and bittersweet riffs to her first children's book," said PW. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Barnwell, a member of the a capella quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock, has adapted one of her musical compositions to a picture-book format. In the story, a young African-American girl tells of growing up in her grandmother's house. Because it has no mirrors, the narrator is able to appreciate the beauty in herself, her grandmother, and the world around her. The lack of mirrors, and therefore more superficial concerns, greatly enhances this child's self-esteem. She doesn't worry about her appearance, the cracks in the wall, or the trash in the halls. This youngster is blessed by an ability to feel love and see beauty where others might be hard pressed to do so. This overly optimistic view of a child growing up in poverty may not ring true for some readers. Saint James's illustrations, characterized by strong simple shapes, vivid hues, faceless figures, and flat forms, are somewhat reminiscent of Heidi Goennel's work. While these pictures are by themselves striking, the faceless figures do not effectively convey the imagery concerning eyes central to the verse. The young narrator repeats the refrain in reference to her grandmother, "So the beauty that I saw in everything, the beauty in everything, was in her eyes, like the rising of the sun." Literal youngsters will naturally be confused by characters depicted without eyes. The companion CD featuring sung and spoken versions of the text is proof that this song works better orally than pictorially.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.