Monday, August 6, 2012
Mirror, Mirror, by Marilyn Singer
Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Josee Masse
New York: Dutton
A series of short fairytale poems presented first front-to-back, then back-to-front, resulting in two different sides of the same story.
It's true/ says who? ends the first of Singer's poems in this collection. This is an excellent question to pose to students in a history or language class. Using this book as a humorous introduction to a lesson on perspective and spin, a teacher can guide a discussion on critical reading (encompassing propaganda, journalistic ethics, and media coverage, among other topics). Sometimes the story is split between two characters (Sleeping Beauty and the Prince, or Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf); sometimes we see two versions of the same character (like "Cinderella's Double Life"). Each story takes up a two-page spread, with the two poems on one side and the facing page illustrated. Each illustration is further divided down the middle, making the artwork especially memorable.
In each illustration, key colors of a narrow palette are repeated and reversed on the other side, showing the opposing viewpoint. Some pictures look like they could be one painting.
Others are clearly depicting both sides at the same time. "Bears in the News", for example, shows Goldilocks surprised in bed, with the shadow of the bears on the wall behind her. Then the other side of the illustration comes from the perspective over her shoulder, looking at the befuddled bears. Snow White and the Queen are placed opposite each other to narrate their own lines.