from Shelf Awareness

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems

by Marilyn Singer, illus. by Josee Masse

In Marilyn Singer’s fun, thoughtful and beautifully written collection, each of her 14 reverso poems spins a familiar fairy tale in a new direction.Singer introduced the reverso in Mirror Mirror. On one side of the page is a free-verse poem composed of short, simple lines and phrases; the same poem appears on the other side of the page, but with the lines reversed from top to bottom. Meanings alter, tones shift, and often the poem’s narrator switches. Together, the two form a single reverso. The results range from hilarious to ominous to poignant. Thumbelina declines the mole’s offer of marriage using the exact words he employed to propose; the Pied Piper turns the villagers’ insistence that he receive “no pay” into a dire warning; and although the Little Mermaid’s reverso begins “For love/ give up your voice./ Don’t/ think twice,” an inner voice warns her, “Think twice!/ Don’t/ give up your voice/ for love.”

Singer’s poems are evocative and moving even without the clever twist, but the playful puzzle element of the reverso poems will fascinate and delight children and grownups alike. Josée Masse’s acrylic paintings visually reflect and bolster the duality contained within each reverso, as in the image that accompanies “Will the Real Princess Please Stand Up?,” in which an excessively tall bedpost divides two wannabe-princesses–one sleeping peacefully, one tossing and turning. This versatile collection will appeal to fans of poetry, fairy tales, word puzzles and snarky narrators. —Allie Jane Bruce, children’s librarian, Bank Street College of Education

Discover: Fun, thoughtful, beautifully written poems that employ a poetic form called a reverso to spin a familiar fairy tale in a new direction.

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