Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems

by Marilyn Singer

Other authorsJosee Masse (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2010

Call number

j 811 SIN


Dutton Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: Illustrated, 32 pages


A collection of short poems which, when reversed, provide new perspectives on the fairy tale characters they feature.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Marilyn Singer presents fourteen "reverso" poems in this delightful picture-book, each of which offers a dual retelling of a classic fairy-tale. Read down the page, the poem tells one side of the story, but when the lines are printed in the opposite order, it gives another perspective. Consider In
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the Hood, from both Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf's perspective:

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.

After all, Grandmother'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.

Some of these selections work better than others, but when done right, they are immensely appealing and quite thought-provoking. They're obviously also very clever! The illustrations are colorful, and while I wouldn't describe them as a particular favorite, I appreciated the way in which the dual nature of the poems in question is captured in the artwork.

I was a little confused to see that the author claims to have invented this form, which she has named the "reverso," as I believe that the ancient Greeks and Romans also had (very short) "palindrome poems," and the epic Sanskrit poems Kirātārjunīya and Shishupala Vadha (neither of which I have read) are said to contain longer passages in the form. But leaving that aside (after all, not everyone has studied ancient literature!), I do think that, in the field of contemporary poetry, and specifically, children's poetry, Singer has done something innovative and exciting. I consider it an added bonus that she chose to experiment with this new form in order to retell fairy-tales!
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LibraryThing member amandacb
Mirror Mirror is a book of reversible verse—what does that mean? I think it is best served with an example.

“The Doubtful Duckling” Take I
I’ll turn into a swan
No way
I’ll stay
An ugly duckling
Stubby and gray,
Plain to see—
Look at me.
A beauty I’ll be.

“The Doubtful Duckling”
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Take II (reversed)
A beauty I’ll be?
Look at me—
Plain to see,
Stubby and gray.
An ugly duckling
I’ll stay.
No way
I’ll turn into a swan

Singer and Masse take the themes from fairy tales and write poetry about them, creating different themes using reversible poetry. It takes some talent to write the poetry that can be reversed and still create meaning, and it is quite fun. This would be a great poetry exercise with elementary, middle, and even high school students—to write a poem over a theme, and then have them reverse the poem to see what else the poem states about the theme.

The illustrations are quite colorful and vibrant, and show the duality of the reversible poems. For instance, “The Doubtful Duckling” has a swan that is part swan and part ugly duckling.
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LibraryThing member kreierso
This ingenious book of reverses, or poems which have one meaning when read down the page and perhaps an altogether different meaning when read up the page, toys with and reinvents familiar stories and characters, from Cinderella to the Ugly Duckling. Matching the cleverness of the text, Masse’s
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colourful paintings create split images that reflect the twisted meaning of the witty poems and employ artistic elements of form and shape — Cinderella’s clock on one side morphs to the moon on the other.
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LibraryThing member jdieder104
Fun poems that give children two view of one problem. I really liked this book and looking at both sides of the story. Colorful and connects with stories children should already know.
LibraryThing member ebmcc
Several fairy tales told in reverso poetry, revealing two sides to every story using the same text in reverse for the second side. Not a good read aloud without lots of teaching as you go. Vibrant, interesting illustrations.
LibraryThing member samsamiam
This clever set of fairy-tale inspired poetry tells two sides of each story with the same words! By reading each poem in reverse, another story appears. For example, read one way Cinderella is lamenting the fact that she'll be stuck shining her sisters' shoes while they're at the ball. When the
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same set of lines are reversed, she's instead gloating over her dances with the prince while her sisters watch. It's amazing how much personality Singer was able to give to each character in only a few short lines.
These unique poems are accompanied by colorful illustrations. The images are split into two different, but generally symmetrical scenes, reinforcing the nature of the text. The pictures are very soft and round, and well-suited to the fairy tales they illustrate.

Overall, this is a fun read that will likely inspire you to write your own reversible poem!
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LibraryThing member abackwardsstory
Mirror Mirror has won the 2010 Cybils Award in the Poetry division. The winners are chosen because they "combined literary merit with kid appeal."

I actually purchased Mirror Mirror sometime last year because it combined interesting poetry techniques with fairytales. The first few entries were so
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witty, I had to go home and read the rest.

At the end of the book, Marilyn Singer states, "We read most poems down a page. But what if we read them up? That's the question I asked myself when I created the reverso. When you read a reverso down, it is one poem. When you read it up, with changes allowed only in punctuation and capitalization it is a different poem."

One of the things I loved in this picture book is that some of the poems feature the "hero/heroine" on one side and the "villain" on the other. It's amazing to see how different the same words/opinions come off.

From classic tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella to beloved stories such as Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk, there are reversible poem stories for everyone. While the poetry doesn't hold up as anything special on its own, the charm comes when reading the poems side-by side. The book is further enhanced by the lovely illustrations created by Josée Masse. Each image splits down the middle in a fashion that never looks choppy, but eye-catching and fun. One example of a "split" can be seen in the above cover image.

Overall, this was a fun picturebook discovery that I really enjoy reading. I was really happy it won in its category for the Cybils Award!
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LibraryThing member edspicer
Singer, Marilyn. (2010). Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. New York: Penguin Putnam/Dutton. 32 pp. ISBN 978-0-525-47901-7 (Hard Cover); $16.99.

When we tell our poetic fairy tales, they have a whole different meaning when we read them in reverse order.

This fairy tale book is written in a
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poetic form entitled, Reverso, as named by its creator, Marilyn Singer! The form takes each line and has that line read down with one meaning and read up with a slightly different version often featuring an ironic twist. Using well-known fairy tales we see each one from two different perspectives. In the Red Riding Hood poem, we have Red's story first and then the Wolf's slightly different version, using the same words, but in reverse order. These poems will be quite a lot of fun to share on Tuesdays, my poetry day, with my first graders. Josee Masse's artwork adds a side-by-side look at the two versions (wish it had been an up and down look to match the form). While I plan to use this book with my first grade students, this book is equally at home in both high school and middle school libraries. Teachers should be able to have quite a lot of fun with students in the creation of reversos that will help teachers explain irony while also showing students the value (and hard work) of carefully chosen words. While elementary teachers will adore this short book, don’t let the format, the page length, and illustrations keep this book out of the hands of middle school and even high school teachers and students.
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LibraryThing member shelf-employed
Very clever, fairytale-themed poems that can be read forwards or backwards, or, as they are placed on the book's pages - up or down. Even the artwork is in sync with the "mirror image" theme. Anyone who reads one of these reversos (as the author calls them) will want to try creating her own
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"reversible verse!"

"Isn't this a fairy tale?"
"A fairy tale this isn't..."

Very unique!
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LibraryThing member ahernandez91
Mirror Mirror is a book of poetry on 14 different fairytales. There poems are written and then written again on the other side of the page in reverse. We read poems from top to bottom, but if we read them from bottom up- it changes them. This could be used to show two different sides of a story or
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point of view, simply by used of movement of punctuation and capitalization. I thought this book was absolutely stunning, along with the illustrations. The book inspires for creativity. This is most certainly a good book to use when teaching a poetry unit.
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LibraryThing member vanessa6
• Every poem had its own illustration. The artwork is not what I prefer but it works. They could possibly grab the children’s attention. There are lots of colors and basic details. The collection has the themes of the Grimm’s fairytales with Cinderella, Red Robin Hood, Ugly ducklings, and
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Snow White as a few.
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LibraryThing member HopeMiller123
I have never read a double book before that has one story on one side, and the opposite story on the other side of the page. I think its a genius idea and fun to read. The poems in this book take classic fairytales and flip them into a new story that show the fun side or maybe a sad side that has
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been reinvented. I think kids would love this book and enjoy the twists that it has created in being a double book. Also, the illustartions in this book are beautiful and very pleasing to the eye which makes this book even more appealing.
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LibraryThing member haldemac
Theme: Fairy tale adventures
Prose from two opposing perspectives on a single fairy tale them. (4+)
Must have background knowledge of fairy tales.
LibraryThing member mschurchill
What a fantastic idea! I love how the auther carefully crafted each of these poems. I can't imagine how long it took her to write each one. Such a challenge, but a neat one!!
LibraryThing member ymelodie
Showing different points of view is a fun way to read the poems. This is a great way of discussing points of view and why others would feel the way they feel. Perspective.
LibraryThing member kwilk
Summary: This is a poetry book where the poems are based on popular fairy tales. Each poem that is written is then is reverse to make a different meaning to the poem.

Personal Reaction: I thought this was a very neat concept. Also I loved that the poems were based on fairy tales that I am familiar
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Classroom Extention: 1. The children could pick a poem and draw an illustration to go with the poem. 2. After reading some examples from the book, the children could write their own poem that could be read one way and then in reverse.
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LibraryThing member pdye
This is a beautiful book of childrens poetry that shows two sides top familiar fairy tales. the poems are read and and then re-read in the exact mirror image. With the same words but just moving some punctuaion the poem looks at a different perspective of the same tale. The illistrations are fun
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and colorful. a wonderful and enjoyable book of poems.
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LibraryThing member jmvarnad
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse is a great twist on traditional fairy tales. This book takes poems about the good characters and put them backwards. Those backwards poems are the voice of the villains in the story. I really enjoyed the book. It would be great for readers theater.
LibraryThing member copad2thing
The book has reversible verse, and clever poems from top to bottom. The reversos in this book are based on fairy tales.
LibraryThing member jentaz
This clever book combines poetry with fairy tales by having the reader read the poem forward and then in reverse to put a spin on some familiar tales. The pictures are beautiful and would hold a kid’s attention because each picture is split into a mirror image just like the poems. This would be
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an excellent book for children learning about different kinds of poetry!
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LibraryThing member kirolsen
This is such a fun book to read! It is a unique book in that you can read each poem down the page and get one interpretation and then you can read it down the page and interpret the story in a whole new way. It takes the classic fairy tales and puts a modern spin on them.
LibraryThing member manich01
Classic fairy tales get a modern revision through quirky free verse: written one way, it represents one perspective in the tale; in reverse, it represents the "flip-side" perspective. Use to teach language, including punctuation as well as poetic approaches.
LibraryThing member ccbell
A book filled with a series of fairy tales. There is an amazing twist to the book, the author says a poem and then re-says it in reverse, or as if the poem was upside down. I think this is clever and incredible.
LibraryThing member skcramer
Twelve classic fairy tales are retold in this ingenious collection of reversible poetry that literally turns fairy tales upside-down: read them top-to-bottom for one perspective and bottom-to-top for another. These “reversos” (as they have been dubbed by the author) work seamlessly. A poem from
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Sleeping Beauty’s perspective reverses into a poem from the Prince’s perspective while the Cinderella poem present its heroine as a household drudge then reverses to show her as a belle of the ball. The bisected illustrations are a perfect complement to these poems, cleverly depicting both perspectives while mirroring details from one side to the other. This collection is a true celebration of wordplay and illusion. An author’s note further explains how to write “reversos,” and encourages readers to write their own. This collection is highly recommended for readers age eight to twelve and would be an excellent addition to any library.
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LibraryThing member kathellenahagen
The story is about reverso meaning that their is two sides to every story, like princess and the frog, and sleeping beauty. When reading both side of the story it was like reading two different story but the same idea and each story.

Personal reation
I enjoyed the book and seeing both side of the
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side. I havent read this book before, but wouldnt mind reading a reading this book again.

extension ideas
1. I would have the students write a story and then by using the same words just put it in a different way.
2. I would have them draw a mirror and and then we will put one side of the story on one side and then one other side.
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Texas Bluebonnet Award (Nominee — 2012)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 2013)
Triple Crown Awards (Nominee — 2013)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Poetry — 2012)
Red Clover Book Award (Nominee — 2012)
Bluestem Award (Nominee — 2013)
Chickadee Award (Nominee — 2012)
Land Of Enchantment Book Award (Winner — Picture Book — 2012)
Virginia Readers' Choice (Nominee — Elementary — 2013)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 2012)
Flicker Tale Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 2012)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Intermediate — 2014)
CYBILS Awards (Winner — Poetry — 2010)
Iowa Goldfinch Award (Nominee — 2014)




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