Monday, January 30, 2012

Book #30: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer, Illustrated by Josée Masse

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This beautifully illustrated poetry collection is unique in that each poem is a reverso, a poetic form created by the author. Each poem is meant to be read from top to bottom and then again from bottom to top. The poems focus on different fairy tales, from Cinderella to Jack and the Beanstalk. For instance, the poem about Little Red Hiding Hood, “In The Hood”, when read top to bottom is from Little Red’s perspective. Read it again from the bottom up and suddenly you get a wolf’s eye view.

If you haven’t explored poetry with your children, this is the perfect place to start. As one of those people who often struggles with poetry, I was impressed at the accessibility of these poems. It helps that the poems are about familiar stories and that each one is short. In addition, the stylized illustrations give you clues about the poems’ perspectives. For example, the illustration for Goldilocks and the three bears is split down the middle simultaneously showing both Goldilocks’ and the bears’ viewpoints.

This is a fantastic book for kids who are learning about punctuation. Many of the poems use changes in punctuation to transform the meaning of a line. The poems are great examples of the impact of a question mark versus an exclamation point.

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If you’re reading this at home, take turns with your child reading the poems. The wordplay is clever and reading the poems out loud can make the hidden meanings easier to understand. The book ends with a description of the reverso and an invitation from the author to write your own. Reversos don’t have to be based on fairy tales. Try writing a poem in the perspective of two inanimate objects, such as a car and the road, or the peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich.

This book is a lovely addition to a fairy tale storytime. Depending on your audience you might read just one poem or zip through the whole book. Each poem stands alone, so it’s easy to give kids just a taste of poetry to whet their appetites.


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