Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review - Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Josee Masse
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Young Reader (March 4, 2010)
Reading Level: Grades 3 to 6
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 stars

Description from the inside flap:
There are two sides to every story, from the princess and the frog, to the beauty and the beast, to Sleeping Beauty and that charming prince.

Now, in a unique collection of reversible verse, classic fairy tales are turned on their heads. Literally. Read these clever poems from top to bottom. Then reverse the lines and read from bottom to top to give these well-loved stories a delicious new spin.

Witty, irreverent, and exquisitely illustrated, this unique collection holds a cheeky mirror up to language and fairy tales, and renews the magic of both.

I love really well done picture books that are unique or very creative. I am also jealous of anyone who is able to write verse. I fully lack that skill. Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer is not only a picture book done in verse. It is written in reversible verse. This kind of blew my mind as I was reading it. Imagine a poem that can be read down a page as well as up the page?! The rules - you can only change punctuation and capitalization but the word order must remain the same. If you haven't grasped the complexity of the task let me share a short sample that the author has at the end of her book:

A cat
a chair:

A chair
a cat.

Now take this concept pair it with fairy tales as the focus of the verse and amazing dual-themed illustrations and you have an extraordinary book. As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to purchase it. The verse provides two views to each fairy tale. Masse's illustrations provide their own two views.

The recommended age for this book is Grades 3 to 6. Children within this age level will be able to read it independently and likely begin to understand the complexity of the style. However, I would also argue that children ages 4 to 8 will also enjoy listening to the verse be read aloud, as well as, looking at the pictures even if some of the intricacy is lost on them.

I would recommend this book as either a gift or to be included in your personal library or classroom library. Definitely gets 5 stars from me.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~