• Happy birthday Lee Kingman (Pierre Pigeon).
  • It’s the birth date of Elizabeth Janet Gray Vining (1902-1999), Adam of the Road.
  • Happy birthday American Chess Association, formed in 1857. Read Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club by Janet Wong, illustrated by Stacy Schuett.
  • Happy Birthday also to the American Library Association, founded in Philadelphia, 1876. Read The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli.
  • It’s Mad Hatter Day, inspired by John Tenniel’s illustration of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
  • It’s also Come and Take It Day. Read Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter, llustrated by Red Nose Studio, Come Back, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Wallace Tripp, and If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond.

On October 3rd we celebrated National Poetry Day. Normally people set aside the month of April to celebrate poetry, but I actually think children’s poetry should be honored at least once a month. Even for children who think they don’t like to read, a poem can be a magical entry into the literary world. I once saw Canadian poet Dennis Lee work with a group of “hard case” nonreaders. In the end they wanted to copy his poems down, letter by letter, because they had enjoyed them so much.

Our book of the day, Marilyn Singer’s Mirror Mirror not only helps celebrate poetry—it will help children play games with words as well. For the book Marilyn created fourteen “reversos.” Read down the page and the poem sounds one way; read up, with punctuation changes, and it conveys a completely different meaning. The form would have been a great deal of fun no matter what Marilyn wrote about, and she focused on some well-known fairy tales, which often have two points of view. So the book works not only as a way to play with language, but also to examine folklore characters.

Hence we see the story of Hansel and Gretel told first from the point of view of the witch:

Fatten up, boy!

Don’t you

like prime rib?

Then your hostess, she will roast you


Have another chocolate.

Eat another piece of gingerbread.

When you hold it out,

your finger

feels like

a bone.

Fatten up.


keep her waiting …

And now from the point of view of Gretel, talking to her brother:

Keep her waiting.


fatten up.

A bone

feels like

your finger

when you hold it out.

Eat another piece of gingerbread,

have another chocolate –


Then your hostess, she will roast you

like prime rib.

Don’t you

Fatten up, boy!

Not only will children enjoy reading these reversos, they will be able to play around writing them. And there are a lot of fairy-tale characters not explored by Marilyn. She has, however, written one inventive book of poetry after another, and Mirror Mirror provides a fabulous place to get a sense of her craft.

As I write this, Hurricane Irene has swept away all power in my neighborhood. But of course pen and paper can be used without a power generator. So I just want to thank Marilyn for providing me with an activity to while away the hours until I have lights again. Creating a reverso even beats playing on the computer!

Here’s a poem from Mirror Mirror:


Originally posted October 6, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Fairy Tale
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Mirror Mirror


  1. Beth says:

    My kids are poetry-phobic, and they loved this book. It’s allowed me another chance to show them poems, because I can remind them of the book that they adored that was full of poems.

  2. Mrs. O says:

    WOW ! WOW ! WOW ! What an awesome book – today is my birthday, and I think I just found my present ! Thanks for sharing this book. I don’t yet own it, but I already love it !

  3. Brandie Mayes says:

    What a great looking book, I will definitely check it out!

  4. Thanks so much, Anita!

  5. Anita says:

    Marilyn: Thank you — for the book!

  6. CLM says:

    There is just one Lee Kingman I love but it is a great one, Break a Leg, Betsy Maybe.

    Elizabeth Janet Gray’s books are all enjoyable and several are outstanding. I own all her juveniles except Tilly-Tod, which I finally got via ILL in 2007 (pleasant but weak). My two favorites are Jane Hope and The Fair Adventure. I have an extra copy of Penn if anyone is longing to own it. Of course, her adult books, especially her memoir about the Crown Prince of Japan, are worth reading as well.

  7. Alexandre says:

    Great looking Book!
    Love the idea!

Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.