Two things on this Poetry Friday:
First, you know those picture books that try entirely too hard to be clever concept books, as in the concept is uncomfortably forced? Well, it’s Opposite Day (in more ways than one): Here’s one concept book, a collection of poems, that really works. Below is the smart poem that goes with the spread you see above. It comes from Marilyn Singer’s newest collection of poetry, Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, illustrated by Josée Masse, and released this week by Dutton Juvenile:
“We read most poems down a page,” writes Singer in the book’s note on the poetry. “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…” Singer uses her reverso technique to tell both sides of each tale, Publishers Weekly calling the concept a smart one and praising Masse’s fun-with-symmetry, as you can see in these featured spreads.
Having chosen fairy tales as her theme for this collection of poetry, Singer brings us the double life of Cinderella; the tale of Sleeping Beauty, as told through the sleeping princess’ point-of-view and the prince’s — both a bit jaded; the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, as if headlines in the news; and much more. “It is a form that is both challenging and fun — rather like creating and solving a puzzle,” she tells child readers, challenging them to create their own reversible poetry. I love this. It makes me want to be an elementary language arts teacher RIGHT NOW. What fun with words, and what fun with puzzling out the two sides of one tale…
Masse’s work is new to me. (I think, though I can’t fully translate this bio, that she’s also a book designer in Montreal.) “The vibrant artwork is painterly yet unfussy and offers hints to the characters who are narrating the poems,” writes School Library Journal. That review calls the book “a marvel to read,” and I have to add that the illustrations are a marvel to take in, too. Captivating.
And my second note on this Poetry Friday? I pretty much have to mention it, given how these two mirror books have fallen into my lap in one week: In May, a book that the ultra-talented Suzy Lee (who you may remember visited me in 2008) created in 2003 (I believe) will be published here in the States by Seven Footer Press. It’s called Mirror, and it is beautiful and sad and funny and stunning in that Suzy-Lee way. I’m hoping to secure some illustrations from it to show you, but I had to mention it today, what with this mirror theme. (Also: I got a copy of it just today, and the world stopped spinning while I read it, another reason I have to yawp about it now.) This wordless wonder, all about a young girl playing with her mirror image, also demonstrates the Best Use Ever of the Space Eaten Up by the Necessary Binding of a Book and also More Brilliant Use of Symmetry in Illustrations. More on this later. God, I love Suzy Lee.
Here is her slide show about the book from her site.
Tomorrow’s Poetry Friday round-up (yup, I’m posting a bit early) is over at TheTeachingBooks.net blog. Enjoy.
MIRROR MIRROR by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse © 2010. Used with permission of Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group.