Friday, March 23, 2012

Picture Book (Poetry): Mirror Mirror (By Marilyn Singer)

                                        I checked out Mirror Mirror from the library several months back , but I did not get around to reading it before it was due.  This issue is not uncommon because I usually have well over 100 books checked out at any given time.  I guess my literary desires are greater than the amount of hours I have in a day to read.  After seeing it reviewed at a couple blogs, I checked it out again during a recent trip to my favorite library. 

What initially drew me in was the enchanting title and the eye-catching cover art by Josee Masse. The colors are rich. The picture is intriguing.  Inside, the illustrations continue to amaze me with their ironies and contrasts which work so brilliantly with the parallel poems.   The pictures, like the poems, are split screen, working together to reveal the meaning and multiple point of views. 

A well-written poem is a work of art.  Marilyn Singer has taken the art form to another level with her unique collection of reversible verse (reverso).   Using classic fairy tales, Singer reveals there is two sides to every story and every poem.  With a few changes in punctuation or word position, the meaning changes when the poems are read in reverse.  "In the Hood" is my favorite:

(Little Red Riding Hood's Perspective)
In my hood
skipping through the wood,
carrying a basket,
picking berries to eat --
juicy and sweet
what a treat!
But a girl
mustn't dawdle.
After all, Grandma's waiting. 

(The Wolf's Perspective)
After all, Grandma's waiting,
mustn't dawdle...
But a girl!
What a treat --
juicy and sweet,
picking berries to eat,
carrying a basket,
skipping through the woods
in my 'hood.

Mirror Mirror is a celebration of the vigor and potential of language.  Readers can discover multiple meanings of words, the affect of tone, and the importance of punctuation.  The smallest grammatical changes can signify huge differences in meaning.  I highly recommend this unique book of poetry for all ages.

This post is linked up with Poetry Friday at A Year of Reading. 


  1. My kiddos and I tried writing our own mirror mirror poems. It was a hard but a lot of fun!

  2. Oh this was also one of my recent discoveries. I lovedlovedloved the reverso technique, isn't it great? My ten year old daughter and I had so much fun reading the poems aloud and infusing different voices in each version of the poem. Marilyn Singer is a favorite. :)

  3. Thanks to both of you for sharing your experiences. I thought about suggesting students write a reverso verse, but wondered if it was a bit advanced. Eric, I am glad your kids had fun trying. This book is my first by Marilyn Singer, but I find it quite impressive. I'll definitely check more of her books out.

  4. I keep hearing about this book. I'll look for it to read all the reversals. Thanks for the preview, and thanks for visiting me at Musings!


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