Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer

When I told people I was taking poetry books as my monthly Good Morning Connecticut recommendations, this is the look I got:
I felt like that, too. Until I went to a poetry retreat earlier this year, led by poet and teacher, Kathleen Driskell, author of Seed Across Snow

I was really nervous I’d be outed as a Poetry Idiot because I had no idea what I was doing. And what if everyone found out I really had no idea what constituted a poem?Horrors!
I was so relieved when Kathleen actually explained what makes a poem a poem. Did you know that the last word on a line is a place of honor? I hadn’t.
I think people are scared, or worse, indifferent, to poetry because of all the lofty esoteric stuff we had to study in high school. But there is so much out there that is accessible and wonderful, and funny, and emotional and fun. Yes. I said it – fun. F.U.N.
Poetry is often considered the purest form of writing and that’s where the intimidation comes from I think. Take a taste of this month’s books. They are not your mother’s poetry. If you know a kid who wants – or needs – to connect to poetry, see if you can get these books and they’ll get hooked. 

by Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by Josee Masse
The target age group is third through sixth graders but I disagree. I think older kids will love it on another level – because the poems are like puzzles and I can see them wanting to give it a try. As Marilyn Singer writes in the back of the book, a poem is read top down, but these are written in reverso, (see how that word was invented, below!) so they’re also read bottom up, with only punctuation and capitalization changed. That, of course, changes the meaning. It also allows two different points of view and since all the reverso poems are based on fairy tales, they’re perfect because of the two viewpoints, as in this one with Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf. (Sadly, I couldn’t fit the spread here, but here are the left and right pages, vertically. I had to include the art. It’s spectacular – look how the wolf’s body continues as the trees.)
Marilyn Singer, the author, told me, “It started with my cat, August. She looked so comfy in her chair, so complete–and the chair looked so complete with my her. So I wrote this poem:
A cat                                                    Incomplete:
without                                                 A chair
a chair:                                                without
Incomplete                                           a cat
I love games and I love a challenge, so that made me wonder if I could come up with more “up and down” poems. I wrote several (not easy!), some of which were based on fairy tales. When I was a kid, I had a “Rags-to-Riches” doll. You could reverse her outfit so that she turned from a poor serving girl to a princess. I’m convinced that doll inspired my use of fairy tales because the first I wrote was, appropriately, about Cinderella. Then, an editor suggested that I might want to base ALL of the poems on these well-known stories. It was my brilliant husband, Steve,who came up with the name for the form: reverso. Josee Masse’s artwork matches the poems perfectly, don’t you think? So thanks to her and everyone at Dutton who helped bring the book to life!” 

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