Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems

Marilyn Singer
Illustrator:  Josee Masse 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Penguin, 2010   ISBN: 978-0525479017

We are often told that there are always “two sides to every story.” Actually, there are often more than two sides, because there are often many points of view, but that is another matter entirely. In this book Marilyn Singer looks at a number of classic fairy tales, telling the tales from two points of view using two poems, one of which is literally the upside version of the other.

Here is a poem about Cinderella, “Stuck in a corner” shining the shoes belonging to her stepsisters who are at the ball “waiting for a chance / with the prince.” If you read the poem from bottom to top who get the second poem on the page, and the picture is altogether a more cheerful one. Here is Cinderella “shining / at the ball” as she dances with the prince for dance after dance, while her stepsisters are “stuck in a corner” waiting for their turn.

Further on in the book we meet an ugly and doubtful duckling. In the first poem, the duckling is full of hope that one day he will “turn into a swan.”  In the second poem, which is the first one read from the bottom up, we meet a more pessimistic duckling who is convinced that he will always be “stubby and gray.”

All together, Marilyn Singer looks at fourteen fairy tales in this book, using her unique reverso poems for each one. In addition to Cinderella and the Ugly Duckling, she tells the story of Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzle, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and many other familiar favorites. The poems are amusing, interesting, and beautifully complimented by Josee Masse’s luscious artwork.

At the back of the book, Marilyn Singer shows readers how reverso poems work, and she encourages us to try writing their our own reverso poems.