Playing with Perspective

Singer, Marilyn. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. Illus. by Josee Masse. Dutton, 2010. Ages 7-10.

Arresting images, lyrical language, and relevant themes inhabit all of Marilyn Singer’s poetry collections for children. In Mirror Mirror, she has created a new poetic form, which she calls the reverso. The apt name refers to her technique of writing a poem that can be read in both directions — up and down. She uses the same words in both poems, changing only punctuation and capitalization as needed.

Singer’s reversos focus on fairy tales, where things are almost never as they appear.  The title and the form perfectly match the substance, all the while providing an intriguing reading experience. Masse’s vibrant paintings create split images that depict the brilliant duality of the poem’s perspectives. Words and illustrations reflect interesting angles on familiar fairy-tale characters: “Rapunzel’s Locks,”(“No wonder she felt snippy.”); “In the Hood,” (plays on two meanings of hood: Red Riding Hood’s and the slang word for neighborhood); “Longing for Beauty,” (“A beast/can love/ beauty”; now read the lines in reverse order) and “The Road,” about the process of letting yourself go “wherever the road leads.” That’s what the poet and the illustrator have done. Now it’s your turn, dear Reader. Keep your eyes wide open. This could be paired with Laura Whipple’s If the Shoe Fits: Voices From Cinderella, 33 fresh poems from various perspectives of objects (such as the glass slipper) and characters in the fairy tale.

Double the Fun With a Superbaby

O’Malley, Kevin. Once Upon a Royal Superbaby. Illus. by the author, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto. Walker. 2010. Ages 6-9.

As in the hilarious Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude (Walker, 2005), this talented trio again taps the inherent conflict of a collaborative writing assignment for two kids who don’t see eye-to-eye. The boy’s contribution to the pair’s invented fairy tale includes plenty of rock ’em sock ’em action, while the girl focuses on a queen she names “Tenderheart” and the baby she calls “Sweet Piper.” The boy transforms the infant into “Strong Viper” as the “superbaby” manages to save his kidnapped parents from a giant cyclops, in a happy-ever-after ending that satisfies both writers.  O’Malley’s Photoshopped drawings of the storytellers are complemented by Goto and Heyer’s dramatic illustrations reflecting the children’s contrasting ideas. This picture book provides humor as well as a chance to discuss conflict resolution and gender differences.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Do you hear what I hear? | Books of Wonder and Wisdom
  2. Trackback: Following Happily Ever After | Books of Wonder and Wisdom
  3. Eric
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 16:46:55

    Mirror, Mirror is a very fun book. We wrote our own poems – it was tricky but lots of fun. I hope you can check them out:


    • Janice Floyd Durante
      Jan 05, 2011 @ 10:52:46

      Eric, congratulations for having the curiosity and energy to create reversos with your children. What fun! Thanks so much for sharing this. I enjoy your blog featuring the birthdays and work of children’s book authors, and I hope others will check it out, too.


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