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Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems Hardcover – Mar 4 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (March 4 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525479015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525479017
  • Product Dimensions: 26.4 x 1 x 26 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #202,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"A mesmerizing and seamless celebration of language, imagery and perspective." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Masse’s clever compositions play with symmetry, bringing this smart concept to its fullest effect." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Cleverly constructed and insightful."—The Horn Book, starred review

"Truly a visual, as well as a literary, puzzle and such a treat!" —Library Media Connection, starred review

“Fun, thoughtful, beautifully written poems that employ a poetic form called a reverso to spin a familiar fairy tale in a new direction.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review

With 6 starred reviews, 8 best of the year lists, and over 20 state award nominations, everyone is raving about Mirror Mirror!

Mirror Mirror is an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best 100 Children's Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Editors Choice, a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Top 15 Children’s Book of the Year, a Horn Book Fanfare Book, a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year, a Land of Enchantment Book Award Winner, and one of Time Out New York Kids' 50 Best Books for Kids.

About the Author

Marilyn Singer is an award-winning author of more than 90 children’s books in a wide variety of genres. 

Josée Masse is a recognized artist in her native Canada, having illustrated numerous French and American picture books.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems is both a delightful introduction to poetry, and a beautiful collection of fairy tales. The poems in Mirror Mirror are written forward and backward, the same words, two different poems--extremely clever! The illustrations are also lovely. Poetry is a wonderful addition to your family's regular read-aloud time. Poetry is fun, funny, and (believe it or not) accessible. Introducing children to poetry at an early age makes it far less intimidating when it comes time to analyze and write poetry at school. Mirror Mirror is one of our favorite children's poetry books. I also highly recommend Singer's second book of reverso poems Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so fun and great for children learning to play with words.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 50 reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming and going / Going and coming May 2 2010
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I like to think that the world of children's literature has gained a bit more respect in the last decade or so. Folks notice it and reference it more often. And as sales continue to be good and scholars take note of it more often, its sub-genres proliferate and gain acceptance. Graphic novelists of children's fare increase. Non-fiction writers for kids demand more attention. And then there are the poets. Poets like Marilyn Singer who has been doing good steady work for years and years. I'm looking at my watch and I see that it's just about time that Ms. Singer get her due. How clever of her to make it easy on me by producing a poetry picture book that is not only fun, not only clever, and not only beautiful to look at, but also has a good FIVE stars from five professional review journals. "Mirror Mirror" is everything a person wants in a book for kids. It's enjoyable for children, who will pore over the wordplay for long stretches of time, and it's clever enough for the gatekeepers (librarians, teachers, parents, etc.) who want a poetry book for kids that doesn't take them to Snoresville, USA. "Mirror Mirror", in short, delivers.

Better flip to the back of the book (how appropriate!) if you want an explanation of what's going on here. Says the last page, "We read most poems down a page. But what if we read them up?" Calling such poems "reversos", Singer's concept is simple. Each poem is repeated. The one on the left is read down. Then Singer takes the same words, puts in some slightly different punctuation, and when each line is read backwards it tells an entirely new story. The stories in this book are fairy tales and Singer not only tells the tales frontwards and backwards but gives them new stories too. The ugly duckling, for example, has some doubts of his own potential beauty. In his upbeat poem he says confidently, "Plain to see - / look at me. / A beauty I'll be." Then doubts set in and he sighs, "A beauty I'll be? / Look at me - / plain to see." One of the smartest books out there for kids, young readers will be entranced by Singer's wordplay and Masse's lovely (if not equally clever) illustrations.

When I first heard of a "reverso" I thought it meant a poem where every single word is backwards when it repeats. Fortunately, Singer has no wish to drive herself bonkers. It's not every word that's backwards, but lines. This makes for great wordplay, and some creative solutions. My favorite is the poem that I think also comes across as the cleverest. "In the Hood" is a Little Red Riding Hood take. It's short, so I can write it in full here. On the Little Red side of the equation it reads, "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 replies, "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 wood / in my `hood."

Alas, not every poem is equally strong. I found I was a little baffled by the Rapunzel verses, since I couldn't figure out who was telling each of the two poems. Generally speaking, though, these glitches are the exception rather than the rule. And if you don't care for one poem, you're bound to think another is fantastic.

Most folks will probably look at the pictures here and assume that illustrator Josee Masse utilizes a kind of paint on wood technique similar to the work of Stefano Vitale. Not the case, I assure you. According to her editor, "she painted the pieces of art with acrylic paint on illustration board. She uses an undercoat of acrylic which is what gives the texture . . . . Then she builds up colors on top of that". These puppies clearly took serious work to make. What I like about the pictures too is how well she has split the pictures that accompany the poems into two mirror-like images. Their details reflect how well Masse has understood the text too. For example, in the poem "Do You Know My Name?" the girl from the Rumpelstiltskin story laments that even though she's the beloved heroine, no one ever knows her name. On the opposite page we see the little man dancing beside a fire that burns his name into smoke, while on the other side that smoke has turned into golden thread that spells out nothing at all. Extra points to Masse for taking the time to draw a correct bobbin on a spinning wheel too. Most artists of that story don't take the time (Paul Zelinsky being an exception).

I can't help but think that with the success of this book Singer and Masse will simply have to give in to the demands of their fans and do a sequel of sorts. Why, they could take nursery rhymes in the second! Then classic children's books in the third. Then famous women from history, tall tales, presidents, the list goes on and on. For now, though, we can enjoy this single Reverso collection, possibly the first of its kind for kids. Beautiful both as object and as a way of getting kids interested in poetic forms, this is a must purchase for any library or home collection. One of a kind.

Ages 4-8
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! May 15 2010
By Ulyyf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great concept, and a good book.

Each poem is readable frontwards and backwards, with each line acting as its own unit. (This means some of the lines are quite short, of course.)

And the front and the back version of each poem tells the fairy tale from a different perspective. My favorite? The Hansel and Gretel one:

Fatten up, boy!
Don't you
like prime rib?
Then your hostess, she will roast you
Have another chocolate.
Eat another piece of gingerbread.
When you hold it out,
your finger
feels like
a bone.
Fatten up.
keep her waiting...

Keep her waiting.
fatten up.
A bone
feels like
your finger
when you hold it out.
Eat another piece of gingerbread,
Have another chocolate -
Then your hostess, she will roast you
like prime rib.
Don't you
fatten up, boy!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Praise It High Enough April 8 2010
By Heidi Anne Heiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is unique and wonderful, mostly what I imagined, but done so much better than I anticipated. Singer and Masse manage to provide both sides of the story from famous fairy tales, using similar imagery--and in Singer's case, the exact same words--to convey differing viewpoints. I've rarely seen this done so well if at all since my memory is failing to produce another example.

Yes, you need this one for your personal library. I've enjoyed it myself as an adult without a child present but also anticipate using it with children in the future.

This one can be enjoyed for mere entertainment alone, but it has so many possible applications for teaching and learning, too. It's a "must own" for any school or public library. I haven't been this excited about a picture book in a while and will be shocked if this one isn't in high contention for a Caldecott and other honors over the coming year.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling illustrations; poems, mixed bag Nov. 19 2010
By Dienne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The bold, beautiful illustrations for this book perfectly illustrate the dual perspective, chimeric nature of the book. Roughly half of each illustration represents one of the two sides of the accompanying "reverso" poem, while roughly half represents the other perspective. The two visual perspectives generally join along a central line, with the tone of the illustration changing along that line, even at times when figures continue across the dividing line (as in the illustration for the Little Red Riding Hood poem ("In the hood"), in which the wolf's body flows across the top of the page, but in one half he's wearing a green suit, while on the other half his body blends with the trees). This division is not, however, rigid, as in some of the illustrations figures flow across the dividing line more fluidly.

These illustrations are so brilliant that I'm contemplating buying a second copy of the book, removing the pages and framing them - they're that good. I'm just not sure I can myself to damage a book in that way. I've looked at some of Josee Masse's illustrations online and I really like her style, both for kids and adults.

Marilyn Singer's poems themselves are a mixed bag. The concept itself - creating a poem that can be read both forward and backward - is ingenious. Perhaps the best example is the one Ms. Singer presents on the last page - her own first attempt: "A cat/without/a chair:/Incomplete." vs. "Incomplete:/A chair/without/a cat." Although the words are the same, they present a different perspective or even a completely different meaning when read in reverse.

Applying this concept to fairy tales, in which there are often two different characters with different perspectives, is also brilliant. Some of the poems in this book are pitch-perfect. For instance, "In the Hood" does a delightful job of presenting both Little Red's perspective and the Big Bad Wolf's perspective. The reverso, however, doesn't necessarily have to present the perspectives of two different characters. In "The Doubtful Duckling", for instance, both sides of the poem are from the Duckling's perspective, but each gives a different outlook on his transformation to beautiful swan. The Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast poems, along with the final poem ("The Road") are also all very well done.

Not all the poems work so well, however. The two halves of "Mirror Mirror", for example, seem to be saying the same thing. I'm not even sure who the narrator of either side is supposed to be - the Queen for both? "Full of Beans" is similar in that reversing the poem does not significantly change the meaning or perspective of the poem. "Disappointment" (the Princess and the Frog) and "Rapunzel's Locks" are confusing because they don't even seem to follow the story line of the actual fairy tale. Rapunzel doesn't cut her own hair - the enchantress does. And I don't recall anything in "The Princess and the Frog" about a second kiss.

Nevertheless, the beautiful artwork, the poetic concept, and the reversos that do work well lead me to highly recommend this book. I don't, however, recommend it for kids as young as 4 as indicated on Amazon's product review. I don't really think that most kids will appreciate this book until they are able to read, so they can understand the concept of reading up and down the page. Also, kids have to have at least the beginnings of abstract thinking to understand the different perspectives of the reversos. My own four-year-old (who is generally pretty perceptive) was utterly baffled by the book. I'll probably put it away for a year or two and see how her perception changes.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This marvelously fun, ingenious book will give you a new appreciation of many of your favorite fairy tale characters! April 11 2010
By Deb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all? In this book you'll be able to look at both sides of a fairy tale in what the author has coined a "reverso." The poem, when reversed, reads in an entirely, sometimes surprisingly different manner. In this book of unusual fairy tales your eyes will sometimes widen, you're going to smile, laugh and chuckle out loud when you get a new look at some of your favorite fairy tale characters. Let's take a look at Jack and the giant in that well known tale . . .

Full of Beans

What will happen next?
Little does he know.
A giant
beanstalk is about to read
through the
fragrant green air.
A boy waits in the
cow, market, beans
leading to this moment:
Time to climb.

This marvelously fun, ingenious book will give you a new appreciation of many of your favorite fairy tale characters. Now, take a pen, pencil, or word processor. Start reversing this poem and your eyes will widen with surprise at what you find. "Time to climb. Leading to this moment: cow, market, beans, garden . . . " I loved the ingenuity and certainly appreciated the hard work that went into creating it. The sweeping, vibrant art work had that magical fairy tale quality we all appreciate. If you want a new experience in poetry, this is simply one book you will not want to pass up!