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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Take Two! Written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, with illustrations by Sophie Blackall. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2012. $20.00 ages 5 and up

"Now you go down first.
If Dad calls my name,
We'll trick him again -
Twin Switcheroo game.

Then we'll count how long
It takes him to see
That I am not you
And you are not me."

I didn't have many sets of twins while I was teaching. As I closed in on retirement, I had a pair of boys who delighted in trying to trick me as to which was which. They said that they fooled their Dad all the time. It became easier as they got older, but I suspect that they would have kept playing the Switcheroo game for as long as they possibly could.

What a wonder being a twin must be, in so many ways! Having such prolific and accomplished poets as Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis bring their personal perspectives to the entries in this book is a boon to all who love poetry....heck, anyone who loves to read good writing!

This collection, written by a twin and the grandmother of twins, offers up more than forty poems and is a 'celebration' of what it means to be a twin. We don't know who wrote which poem but it matters not. Both bring a wealth of experience to the 'pairing' and present their writings in four sections.

The first one is titled Twins in the Waiting Womb...Ha!

"Wishing for twins?
You'll be surprised
If they come out
As advertised!"

That poem is accompanied by a 'TWIN FACT': "If a woman has already delivered one set of fraternal twins, the odds of her having a a second set are one in twelve." YIKES! That ups the stakes, don't you think?

There is much wordplay, and it had me laughing out loud as I flipped from one page to the next....'waiting in the waiting womb' and 'womb mate'...STOP! I can't take it!

The following sections are titled Twinfants, How to be One and finally, Famous Twins. There is so much here to consider as you think about twins; it gives teachers and parents a compendium of poetry to share when the mood strikes, or when twins are in the vicinity. A 'twin fact' is presented on every double page spread, leaving the readers with a lot of additional information to share.

Sophie Blackall's depiction of twins is rendered in her familiar watercolors and pencil drawings with collage elements. They are as varied as the poetry and the twins come from different parts of the world. Readers will very much enjoy seeing the twins as they interact, from womb to tomb (Chang and Eng) and all places in between.

If you know someone who has twins, is expecting them or has unexpectedly given birth to a set. this is the perfect baby gift. It gives us pause to think about life as a twin...the delight and the drama of being a 'matched' set. Will twins relate? I wonder.

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