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[Poetry Friday] Emperors, Princes, and Princesses in Singer and Masse’s “Follow Follow”

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Myra here.

I am happy to join the Poetry Friday community this week with a book recommendation that I received from fellow book enthusiasts when we launched our bimonthly theme early this year: Game of Thrones: Blue Bloods, Queenship, and Aristocracy. 

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As this is the last Friday when we are celebrating royalty, I am glad to feature Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse’s Follow Follow. Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Anastasia Suen in her Poet! Poet! blog.

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Fats has written her thoughts about Mirror Mirror last year when we featured quite a few of the CYBILS winners over the past several years. In Follow Follow, Marilyn Singer shares even more reversos, a poetic structure that Singer herself has ingeniously created. In the Author’s Note found at the back of the book, Singer explains quite succinctly it in this fashion:

The reverso, a form I created, is made up of two poems. Read the firest down and it says one thing. Read it back up, with changes only in punctuation and capitalization, and it means something comletely different. When you flip the poem, sometimes the same narrator has a different point of view. Other times, there is another narrator altogether.

A brilliant concept altogether. This book is a testament to just how essential punctuation marks are in a text, regardless of whether it be prose or poetry. Masse remained faithful to this duality through her illustrations that portray varying shades, flipped perspectives, or the extreme polarities in characterization (see figure below).IMG_1689

There are twelve sets of reverso poems altogether. Teachers would also be glad to note that there is a brief yet detailed description of the fairy tales which inspired the poems. I found a few poems that are in keeping with our royalty theme.

The first one talks about the power of belief in Panache.

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I love the bold colors used by Masse and the transformation of the poor miller’s boy to a grand marquis.

This other poem also caught my eye as Singer played around with the idea of exactly what it means to “precious” in The Nightingale’s Emperor.

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Have you written a reverso poem? Do share a few of the joys and challenges in using this poetic form, if you have.

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.

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Reading Update: 36 (25)

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Emperors, Princes, and Princesses in Singer and Masse’s “Follow Follow”

  1. I love these books also. I hadn’t thought of them as examples of the power of punctuation but you’re right, they are. Perhaps they could be worked into a punctuation lesson? Hmm…..

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  2. Loved Mirror, Mirror, but haven’t seen this one yet. Nice to see two sample poems. It’s a brilliant form making us wonder — how does she do it?

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  3. maryleehahn

    Love love love this collection (and Mirror Mirror)! Your choices are perfect for the theme! Your themes amaze and inspire me!

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  4. We have Mirror Mirror! We need to get this! 😀

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  5. Such an ingenious form! Thanks for highlighting this wonderful book.

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  6. I love Marilyn Singer’s work! I must get my hands on Follow, Follow. I have not tackled the reverso form, but will one day. Thanks for highlighting this book. = )

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  7. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] Paying Tribute to Greek Myths through Reverso Poems in “Echo Echo” – Gathering Books

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