Feminist Retellings of Classic Fairytales, Poisoned Apples is a Must Read

by Samantha Albala

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann was just published this week so now I can hold it in my arms and sing and dance out of joy! Heppermann is no stranger to the book world, she is a long time reviewer and this is her second book, first of poetry. Although this YA poetry book is listed for ages 14 and up, it appeals to a greater mass of readers because it retells some of our favorite sexist and poorly cast fairytales, but also because it adds modern perspectives that help to remove a lot of the outdated “Princess” tropes.

The 50 poems collected within Poisoned Apples will have you cheering for the attacks against society and its obnoxious stereotypes. I think that is what is so beautiful about this collection. Through her retellings, Heppermann is both hilarious, and serious, which is an honest and mature way to tackle women and teen issues going on in the world. 

While Heppermann was working on her MFA in children and young adult writing, she stumbled on The Poet’s Grimm. This wonderful accident allowed her to work on her verse novel, also a fairytale related project, while pulling out poems from her imagination. Working between the two projects allowed her to see the feminist angle and story that she needed to tell (through poetry! YES!).

On her blog, she writes about what was happening while she was writing the book; “[it was] a very dark year in which my older daughter struggled with an eating disorder…I was profoundly sad, not just for my daughter, but for every girl—there are so many of us out there—who believe she can never be pretty enough or smart enough or successful enough, so she might as well disappear.” The goal, which succeeds, is to empower teens (and women) to battle stereotypes, tropes, and societal villains that have haunted us thus far. Thank you Heppermann, and write on! 

Check out one of the poems below:

Photos c/o  Christine Heppermann’s Blog.

Some biographical information c/o the Horn Book.

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