Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  Reverso is an amazing poetic form invented by Marilyn Singer, in which the second half of the poem is the first half in reverse, with changes in punctuation that make the meaning very different.  Each of these reverse poems is based on a Greek myth that features two main characters, with each verse told from the point of view of one of those characters.  For example, Perseus’s verse goes:

“There is no man who wouldn’t be

Scared stiff.

Petrified indeed.

I must have your head,

stone-hearted monster!

I am the chosen

one to rid the world of you nasty creatures.

It is my curse to be the hero.

Look away.

You cannot

shield yourself from me.”

 

And here’s Medusa’s:

“Shield yourself from me?

You cannot

look away,

hero.

It is my curse to be the

one to rid the world of you nasty creatures.

I am the chosen

stone-hearted monster.

I must have your head,

petrified indeed—

scared stiff.

There is no man who wouldn’t be.”

The poems are laid out side by side, with an illustration on the facing page. The last page gives further information about Greek mythology and a few sources of myths to read. 32 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  These poems are so, so cool.  They would be a fantastic supplement to a mythology unit.  See the author’s Follow, Follow and Mirror, Mirror for reverso poems based on fairy tales.

Cons:  It would be great to write reverso poems with kids, but it seems like a pretty daunting format.  Maybe an enrichment group?

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