Title: Mirror, Mirror
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Josee Masse
ISBN: 9780525479017
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dutton Children’s Books, c2010.

Cinderella’s Double Life
Isn’t life unfair?
Stuck in a corner,
while they’re waiting for a chance
with the prince,
dancing waltz after waltz
at the ball,
I’ll be shining
these shoes
till the clock strikes midnight.

Till the clock strikes midnight,
these shoes!
I’ll be shining
at the ball,
dancing waltz after waltz
with the prince
while they’re waiting for a chance,
stuck in a corner.
Isn’t life unfair?

I’ve heard rave reviews of this book and convinced my coworker she had to get it, if just so I can get a look of it. The reviews are justified for the most part, with Singer turning poetry literally on it’s head with what she calls “reversible verse.” Changing just punctuation and capitalization (with one noticable exception in a poem about Goldilocks that I’m willing to forgive), poems get new meaning depending on whether they are read up or down. Understandably, some work better than others, like the Cinderella poem quoted above. The bisected illustrations by Josee Masse mimic the reversable quality of the poem. Half the clock in the picture for Cinderella becomes the moon that she and the prince dance under, and the dress for Sleeping Beauty become the rolling hills that the prince travels over to get to her castle. While probably a challenge for beginning poets to immitate, it’s a light-hearted and familiar way to introduce poetry. Another one of my favorites is “The Doubtful Duckling,” which you could have a lot of fun with inflection when reading aloud “Plain to see–/ look at me./ A beauty I’ll be.” and the corresponding “A beauty I’ll be? / Look at me — plain to see”. Other poems include the stories of Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood (who skips through the wolf’s ‘hood), Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, the princess who kisses a frog, and Beauty and the Beast. Golidlocks also makes an appearance, with the poems featuring the points of view from herself and the three bears. They read like a news blotter, or two arguing attorneys. “She / unlocked / the door. / “They shouldn’t have left,” / Goldilocks claimed.” becomes “Goldilocks claimed, / “They shouldn’t have left / the door / unlocked.” “

Preschoolers and poets alike will be enthralled by this book.

My pathetic attempt at Reversible Verse:

Little Pigs and Wolf
A fire is lit.
Little Pigs
build
houses
from the straw and sticks
Here he comes;
“Let me in.”
“Not
by the hair on my chin.”
He huffs and puffs.
How dare
the wolf!
Bricks lock him out.
Whew!

Whew!
Bricks lock him out.
The wolf
“How dare!”
he huffs and puffs
“By the hair on my chin
not
let me in?”
Here he comes
from the straw and sticks
houses.
Build
little pigs!
A fire is lit.

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