By Rachel Wadham, Host of WORLDS AWAITING
When I begin the discussion of poetry in my children’s literature classes, I am often greeted with groans and apathy. It seems that somewhere along the way many of my students have lost any connection that they may have had with the joys of poetry. It’s impossible to lay blame for this loss at any one event or group, so I’ve never really tried to address why it’s lost. I only focus on the fact that I find it really sad that poetry is, for many, a hardship. In my classes, I combat this apathy by trying to reintroduce the joys of poetry. We read fun poems and study some of my favorite poets, one of which is Marilyn Singer. Singer is a multi-talented author, who may be familiar to many because of her delightful Tallulah books which recount the adventures of a darling girl who loves to dance. But among her many picture books and novels, Singer is also a talented poet. Singer writes poems about all kinds of things, from dogs to sticks and superheroes to aliens. She even wrote a whole book with poems about the presidents of the United States called Rutherford B. Who Was He? All her poetry is delightful and sure to engage a wide range of readers. But Singer is particularly notable because she created her own form of poetry! We’re all likely familiar with a wide range of poetic forms such as the sonnet, ballad, ode, limerick, or the ever present haiku. But it was not until Singer that we learned of the form, reverso. A reverso is made up of two poems. When you read the first poem from top to bottom it says one thing. But then when you exactly reverse the order of the lines, changing it only for punctuation and capitalization, it says something else. The form is perfectly masterful in that you get two distinct points of view in exactly the same poem, only reversed! So far she has published three books in the form, Mirror Mirror and Follow Follow are reverso’s based in fairy tales and Echo Echo is based on Greek Myths. Each are full of fun and may just help everyone find a little joy in poetry again.
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. Dial Books, 2016.
Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. Dial Books, 2013.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2010.
Rutherford B. Who Was He?: Poems About the Presidents by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by John Hendrix. Disney-Hyperion, 2013.
Tallulah’s Tutu by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Alexndra Boiger. Clarion Books, 2011.
At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children. We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels. Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.