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 fairy 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.
Follow Follow: a Book of Reverso Poems, by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse, Dial, $16.99