Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Singer, Marilyn. 2010. MIRROR, MIRROR: A BOOK OF REVERSIBLE VERSE. Ill. by Josée Masse. New York: Dutton. ISBN 9780525479017 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

This fun, puzzle-like collection of poetry about fairy tales is remarkable because all of its poems are reversos, or poems that can be read down as well as up the page. Each of Singer’s poems takes the voice of one fairy tale character when read one direction, but changes to another character from the same story when read the other way. Small allowances are made for minor changes in punctuation, line breaks, and capitalization. “A beast/can love/beauty./A moist muzzle/can welcome/a rose./A hairy ear/can prize/a nightingale, singing./beneath fur,/look!/A soft heart/stirs,/longing,” is the Beast’s voice when read in that direction, but beautifully transforms to Beauty’s voice when turned around.

Each two-page spread features a bold and bright split image illustration that gives clues as to the identities of the speakers of the reverso on the facing page. While simple enough for young elementary students, the game of unraveling these clever and witty poems will invite readers of all ages to pour over every page of this poetry collection. This book was included on the list of ALSC 2011 Notable Children’s Books.

Read the poems aloud as a group and let children guess which fairy tale character is speaking in each poem. Analyze why-- what are the clues? Have readers create their own reversible verse about any subject they like.

Other recent books that play with fairy tales:
Browne, Anthony. ME AND YOU. ISBN 9780374349080
Cousins, Lucy. YUMMY. ISBN 9780763644741

By Cecily Ponce de Leon

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