Cover of Mirror, Mirror by Jane Yolen and Heidi E Y Stemple

Mirror, Mirror

Heidi and I located forty mother/daughter folk tales from around the world, organized them, and then held long conversations about the stories. The stories range from well-known “Snow White” and “Cinderella” to lesser known tales from Portugal, Spain, Sudan, Palestine, China, etc. We used tales in which strong mothers, obsessive mothers, doting mothers, long-suffering foster mothers, and the quintessential wicked step mothers appear. Like Heidi, I am torn between wanting the book to succeed–and being embarrassed by how revelatory the book is.

Available in hardcover and in paperback.

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What reviewers have said:

  • “Richly varied and culturally diverse, these 40 selections include the familiar … and the little known. They are grouped thematically, and each section is followed by a conversation between the editors … These conversations deal with serious issues but are not without humor, and the relationship between mother and daughter, revealed as they talk, should encourage those mired in even the most difficult parent-adolescent struggles. An excellent addition to any folktale collection, this is recommended especially for public and school libraries where it might be used for discussion groups.” — Library Journal
  • “A collection of beautifully retold international folktales that includes a running dialogue between Yolen and her daughter. This thematic exchange makes the book of interest to teenagers exploring their own relationships with their mothers. … The editors explain the significance of what they have done toward the end of the book: “We do not always understand them [the folktales] by a single reading, or by ourselves. But by talking about the tales, sharing them, we can open up both the external and internal meanings of the stories-and our own lives.” In short, this book is a two-for-the-price-of-one and well worth it.” — School Library Journal
  • “The bond between mothers and daughters, whether felicitous or contentious, is the theme of the folktales selected by this mother-daughter team. In their introduction, the first of a series of sharp-witted dialogues, Yolen, a storyteller and prolific children’s book author, and Stemple, also an author and herself the mother of daughters, discuss the origins of their collection. Stemple was surprised to find that these old tales were not at all as she remembered them, and readers will share her experience. Whether a folktale is a variation on the story of Cinderella, Snow White, or Rapunzel, an unfamiliar tale about river spirits, or the promises of the sun to a barren mother, it reveals significant insights into the concepts of good and bad mothers and daughters, reward and punishment, physical versus moral beauty, and nature versus nurture. Representative of the oral traditions of Europe, Africa, Asia, India, and the Caribbean, these folktales remain fresh and open to interpretation, and Yolen and Stemple’s discussions are, accordingly, lively and illuminating.” — Booklist
  • “Mirror, Mirror,” a collection of 40 international folk and fairy tales, explores every kind of mother-daughter relationship.” — New York Newsday