“Marilyn Singer's verse in Follow Follow practically dances down each page . . . the effect is miraculous and pithy.” – The Wall Street Journal
Once upon a time, Mirror Mirror, a brilliant book of fairy tale themed reversos–a poetic form in which the poem is presented forward and then backward–became a smashing success. Now a second book is here with more witty double takes on well-loved fairy tales such as Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid.
Read these clever poems from top to bottom and they mean one thing. Then reverse the lines and read from bottom to top and they mean something else–it is almost like magic!
A celebration of sight, sound, and story, this book is a marvel to read again and again.
Singer and Masse’s companion to Mirror Mirror (a PW Best Book in 2010) is just as inspired as its predecessor. Iconic fairy tale characters speak through poems that can be read backward and forward, resulting in drastically different meanings. Familiar rivals duke it out: “I can’t be/ beat./ I’ve got rabbit feet to/ take me to the finish line,” says the overconfident hare. “Take me to the finish line!/ I’ve got rabbit feet to/ beat./ I can’t be/ the smallest bit distracted,” maintains the tortoise. Elsewhere, the line “Behold his glorious majesty” conveys both vanity and incredulity in Singer’s take on the Emperor’s New Clothes. Cobalts, reds, and golds dominate Masse’s textured acrylics, contributing suitably regal visuals for Singer’s dizzyingly clever wordplay. Ages 6–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Feb.)
- Lois Rubin Gross
This companion to Singer's brilliant Mirror Mirror is nearly as amazing as its predecessor. The brilliance and artistry of poetry that can be read both up and down, basically palindrome poems, is awe-inspiring. The poems are witty and clever, but also poignant and thought-provoking, as each poem offers alternating viewpoints on a classic fairy story lined up, side by side. How is it possible to take the same set of words and, by reading them upside down, and occasionally changing punctuation and intonation, create a totally different story and perspective? Your Wish is My Command, the story of Aladdin from both the street urchin's and the Jin's viewpoints, is among the most beautifully crafted. The voice of the Jinni of the Lamp is angry and urgent compared to Aladdin's whining desire for wealth and treasure. There is clearly no comparison between freedom from want or freedom of the body and soul. The Little Mermaid's Choice is almost a feminist argument for being true to one's gifts. On the one hand, the mermaid knows the sacrifices required to captivate a prince, but her inner voice reminds her that giving up her talents for love is a poor choice. On the downside, Silly Goose, the story of the Golden Goose fails since the two attitudes in the poems reflect something of a "before" and "after," rather than competing characters. The artwork is as memorable as the poetry. The split screen pictures are lush and intricate. A picture of a dancing Thumbelina paired with a bookish Mole stresses the differences that would not mesh in marriage. As with the first book, this collection needs to be read and reread to be appreciated. Young readers and adult readers, alike, will marvel at the mastery of language and style that is required to produce such a magnificent book. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Follow Follow is a companion to Mirror Mirror (Dutton, 2010), Singer's first book of reverso poems in which she asks, "We read most poems down a page. But what if we read them up?" With just a few "changes allowed only in punctuation and capitalization," and reading the poem from bottom up, the adage "there are two sides to every story" is truly manifest. Masse's two-sided illustrations capture the changes in point of view, tone, and color. "No Bigger Than Your Thumb" presents a Thumbelina loath to consider marrying a mole since her dreams are "lofty and daring," far from "a sheltered life underground." She asks from the start, "Me/marry/ a mole?" The mole has the last word: "I am/a mole./Marry/ me." For the poem based on "The Little Mermaid," Masse makes the mermaid's conflict evident by presenting both of her selves, mermaid and young woman, entwined in the center of the page: her long hair is wrapped about the tail of her sea-self. The deep blues, greens, and tangerines dazzle. The poem begins: "For love,/give up your voice./Don't /think twice." And reverses: "Think twice!/Don't/give up your voice/for love." Singer's reversos present lyrical and evocative moments that will surprise and delight children and provide them with opportunities for critical discussion. With their shifts in diction and point of view, the poems and illustrations are ripe for visual and textual literacy exploration and performance.—Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA
A companion piece to the acclaimed Mirror, Mirror (2010), this offering presents more delightful "reverso" poems to treasure. As in the original volume, each page spread presents an expertly crafted poem based on a fairy tale coupled with a second poem which is, with only minor changes in capitalization and punctuation, the first poem in reverse. Together, the two poems offer new perspectives and insights into familiar tales and their characters. Take, for example, the poems based on "Thumbelina." The first verse, from the girl's perspective, begins, "Me / marry / a mole? / I am / small, / but / my dreams are / lofty and daring, / not / constant and safe," while the second verse, in the voice of the mole this time, ends with "constant and safe, / not / lofty and daring. / My dreams are / but / small. / I am / a mole. / Marry / me." Other featured tales include "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Tortoise and the Hare," "The Princess and the Pea," "The Three Little Pigs" and more. Masse's bold and brilliant illustrations bring the poems to life, showcasing the different perspectives while maintaining a lovely sense of unity by essentially dividing each painting into two distinct images while incorporating elements that inextricably yoke each image to its counterpart. Read alongside the traditional tales it plays off of or enjoyed on its own, this volume is one to savor. (about reversos, about the tales) (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)