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Review: Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty (Heppermann)

AUTHOR: Christine Heppermann
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Greenwillow
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 23, 2014
ISBN: 9780062289599
PAGES: 128
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: poetry, fairy tale spin-offs

SUMMARY: A collection of 50 fairy-tale themed poems that tackle problems modern teen girls face.

REVIEW: Incredibly creative! These 50 poems are all short (one page or less), and many contain illustrations. Some of the illustrations really fit; others left me a little confused. Some poems, such as “Big Bad Spa Treatment,” are light-hearted and humorous. Others, such as “Spotless,” reflect deeper emotional and societal problems. All have a feminist slant.

Like some of the illustrations, a few of the poems, such as “Boy Toy Villanelle” left me scratching my head. There were also a few that didn’t seem to follow the fairy tale theme at all. For example, “Human Centipede Two” is about horror movies, and “Pink Champagne” tells of girls getting drunk at a slumber party.

Here’s a brief summary of a few of my favorites:

  • “Prince Charming”–Turns on the charm to meet the parents. On the date, not so charming.
  • “Retelling”–The Miller’s Daughter stands up for herself and gets a new life.
  • “To My Sheep, Wherever You Are”–After losing his sheep, Little Boy Blue finds a new job at the library.
  • “Thumbelina’s Get-Tiny Cleanse–Tested”–Miss Muffett goes on a diet and loses so much weight, she is eaten by a spider.
  • “Red-Handed”–Little Red Riding Hood steals beer, smokes cigarettes, and makes out with the wolf.
  • “Life Among the Swans”–The Ugly Duckling wishes she had stayed ugly. Life was safer then.
  • “Spotless”–Desperate for release from the daily drudgery of keeping a spotless cottage, Snow White begins to cut herself, like her mother before her.
  • “Big Bad Spa Treatment”–How Big Bad Wolves prepare their dinner.
  • “The Beast”–Beauty and the Beast poem gets a cool twist in the last line.
  • “Assassin”–A Wicked Witch’s work is never done.

THE BOTTOM LINE: For the most part, the poems are creative, funny, and thought-provoking. In a poetry book, there will always be a few that don’t make sense. To each, her own poem. The ones that didn’t make sense to me may speak perfectly to someone else.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. Poisoned Apples is a must for all middle and high school libraries.

READALIKES: Grumbles From the Forest (Yolen); Follow, Follow and Mirror, Mirror (Singer); for younger readers, Dark Sparkle Tea and Other Bedtime Stories (Myers)


  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5–very creative and very few like this for teens
  • Engrossing: 5/5–all poems are short, fun and easy to read
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5–great for reluctant readers, too
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: mild–one F-bomb; nothing else
  • Sexuality: mild-moderate–references to menstruation, sex, breasts; Red Riding Hood makes out with the wolf
  • Violence: mild–fairy tale violence–poisoning, witches eat children, cutting
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild–teen alcohol use, smoking

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