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Review: Follow Follow February 20, 2013

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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Follow FollowHooray for another collaboration between poet Marilyn Singer and illustrator Josee Masse!  In 2010, Mirror, Mirror, Singer’s first collection of ‘reverso’ poems (that change in meaning when read backwards) was the hit of my third grade classroom. Most of my students tried their hand at writing their own reversos and discovered that it is hard. So I’m sure they will be delighted to find that Singer has a new collection ready for them to enjoy.

The poems in Follow Follow are mostly short and deceptively simple. You read one poem top to bottom. Then on the other side of the page is the exact same poem written backward (only changes in punctuation or capitalization are allowed). You’ll be amazed at the new voices, details and attitudes that emerge simply from reading the words in reverse order. Following the fairy tale theme of Mirror, Mirror, each poem connects to a story either well known (‘The Three Little Pigs’, ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’) or slightly more obscure (‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, ‘Puss in Boots’). Hans Christian Andersen is especially well represented here, with ‘Thumbelina’, ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Nightingale’ among others. Singer achieves the best results with poems connected to tales with clear oppositional characters. ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ from the Tortoise and the Hare is especially witty. Poems that present a dilemma from two points of view, such as ‘The Little Mermaid’s Choice’ are sometimes less immediately engaging. Masse’s clever illustrations make use of a split page to show either two different characters or the same character in different attitudes, as in the sweet final selection ‘Now it’s Time to Say Good-Night.’  This will be a great addition to bedtime reading or classroom shelves everywhere.

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