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Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

By Katherine Keller on July 16, 2015 3:46 PM | Permalink

Christine Heppermann

Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2014. 114 pages.

Non Fiction
High School: 9-12
CML Juvenile Non-Fiction: PS3608.E66 A6 2014

From the book jacket:
Once upon a time . . .
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
fairy godmother,
prom queen,
team captain,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or a villain, cursed or charmed. You are everything in between.
You are everything.

A beguiling premise to engage a reader, even one who thinks they have no particular interest in poetry. The author’s use fairy tales to examine issues relevant to present day girls is appealing, but in no way sugar-y, or spice-y, or everything nice-y! There is humor, candor, grit and stark honesty to be found in the pages of these poems. Some of the topics dealt with are anorexia ("The Anorexic Eats a Salad") and variations on body image ("The Giant’s Daughter at Spring Forma"l and "Sweet Nothings").

This book is worthy of a strong recommendation because it appeals on many levels. The juxtaposition of fairy tale motifs over feminist themes is refreshing, funny and biting, often within the same poem. It is a collection that can be read again and again, and new meanings found, which is a pre-requisite of all good poetry. The ability to evoke strong feelings—sadness, pathos, fear and a good laugh is clearly evident.

This book should be a required reading in a high school literature class, and for both sexes. It could certainly generate some pithy discussion on male-female perspectives! It would also serve as a jumping off point in illustrating the use of fairy tales and what archetypes are represented. Psychology classes, women’s studies, even history classes would find benefit from this small volume.

Bibliotherapy Topics:  Relationships with Friends - Character deals with issues surrounding friendship, Self Esteem - Character deals with low self-esteem, Self Image - Character struggles with defining self or struggles to be happy with how they see him/herself


Debra McCracken - CML Operations Supervisor