When I first pulled A Book of Reverso Poems: Mirror Mirror off the shelf, the cover captivated me. Author Marilyn Singer and illustrator Josée Masse were able to master the ability of combining multiple perspectives into poetry and art.
Poetry is a tricky thing to write for young children and I think Singer did a wonderful job in making it accessible and interesting. Singer used fairy tales and princesses as the characters of each poem. I think this was smart because they are stories that children already know and have background knowledge for, but they now have put it into poetry. Poetry can be difficult for students to understand, so this helps aid them in the reading and comprehension.
When you read a reverso poem down, it is one poem like normal. Then when you read it up, slight changes in punctuation and capitalization allow it to become a different poem. This style was tremendous and brought a whole new dimension to poetry. The structure provided the perfect form for telling two sides of one story. It becomes like solving a puzzle, both provoking and fun.
The dual nature of these poems also demonstrates how there are always multiple perspectives in a story. This would lead to a great discussion with students about point of view or about learning to understand individuals who have different views or opinions.
In children’s literature, I believe pictures are essential in aiding children as they are exposed to print and as they learn to read. Josée Masse’s illustrations, just like the poems, were split in half to reveal the double nature of the poems. This really helped emphasize the nature of the book/poems that they can go two ways and they were interesting to see and continually search for new clues within each poem and image. Every page kept me searching for new details as I tried to follow the story line that was being represented. Additionally, Masse’s use of color and shadow really helped emphasize the dual nature and emotions of each story.
This book would be great for a poetry unit and it could easily be modified for all different age ranges. Having students write reversos, their own “puzzles,” would be a great partner or small group activity. I loved that this book wasn’t your typical picture or poetry book, keeping things exciting and unique. I’m interested and eager to explore Singer’s other Reverso Poem books!