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Back to Front and Upside Down

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  395 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
It's the principal Mr. Slipper's birthday, and while the rest of the class gets busy writing cards for the occasion, Stan becomes frustrated when his letters come out all in a muddle. Stan is afraid to ask for help, until a friend assures him that nobody's good at everything. And after lots and lots of practice, Stan's letters come out the right way round and the right way ...more
Hardcover, 26 pages
Published June 6th 2012 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Audience: 4-7, struggling/reluctant readers, those with dyslexia, students with different learning styles or intelligences
Appeal: the graphics are adorable, the vocabulary isn't too difficult, the focus is inspirational with a true "can do" attitude, and it does a really good job of showing how students who are a little slower, more deliberate workers aren't necessarily stupid
Application: I would use this book for a younger group of students to help them realize how everyone learns differently a
Mar 09, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing
This book won the 2013 Schenider Family Book Award for early readers. I'm so glad this gorgeous, large format picture book was brought to my attention. I am always looking for books to use when I present disability-themed storytimes to schoolchildren. I will be using this at the end of the month with a second grade class. Thanks to the author/illustrator!

Stan, a positively adorable anamorphic pup, wants to join his class in creating a card for the principal Mr. Slipper's birthday. But he feels u
Feb 12, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
The feeling of being different and unable to do what the children can comes through in this story along with the fact it's okay to ask for help. The image of Stan with the clock ticking large behind him while he looks at the other students conveys some of his panic. The page showing him small and sad in the corner of a two-page black spread does a great job of showing his feelings. But it's a very simplistic view to give the impression that Stan will be able to write his letters correctly with ...more
Lindsay Johnson
"Back to Front and Upside Down!" is a book about a student named Stan in school who is having trouble writing. His letters turn out "back to front and upside down" each time he tries to write his words. Stan is afraid to ask his teacher for help because he is afraid he will get laughed at. At recess, he starts crying, but his friend gives him the courage to ask his teacher for help. When Stan asked for help, he discovered that he wasn't the only one struggling with writing his letters. With lots ...more
Angela Bailey
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Back to front and upside down! / Clarie Alexander. / 2012.

Genre: Fiction.

Format: Picturebook - print.

Plot summary:
"While the rest of the class makes birthday cards for the principal, Stanley struggles with his words and letters" (NoveList).

Considerations or precautions for readers advisory:
dyslexia, school children, asking for help

Review citation:
"The story is a tad didactic, but it teaches a good lesson. Students should have no trouble sympathizing with Stan's
Roselyn Roderick
This teaches students to be accepting and respectful of learning differences among their peers!
Amanda Herman
Oct 04, 2016 Amanda Herman rated it liked it
This picture book is about a little dog named Stan who isn’t able to write. He is asked to make a birthday card by his teacher and his letters come out “back to front and upside down.” Stan notices that all the other animal students in the class are able to finish their card but he cannot. He starts to sweat and his heart starts to pound and he is afraid to ask for help because he thinks everyone will laugh at him. His friend encourages him to ask for help and then it turns out that not only ...more
Oct 31, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eed375, award-winning
Award Winning
1. Schneider Family Book Award
2. Preschool - Grade 2
3. A little dog Stan is having a hard time writing a birthday card to his principal because his letters looked different from everybody else's. Stan is too embarrassed to ask for help and felt really sad and lonely. A classmate encouraged Stan to ask for help and got the help he needed to write a really cool birthday card!
4. I really liked this book because it can relate to children who may still need a little help with penmanship.
Oct 21, 2014 Rhayne rated it really liked it
Back to Front and Upside Down by Clarie Alexander is full of both an understanding for children’s emotional and academic needs but also depicts a whimsical world. In Back to Front and Upside Down, Clarie brings to life a class room of eager young animals for readers. This cast of characters depicts a lightness and relatability which makes them appear more tangible and realistic to young readers. However, the main character Stan proves to be the most relatable for young readers. By relating ...more
"Back to Front and Upside Down"
Award: Schneider Family Book Award
Copyright: 2012
Genre: Realistic Fiction. The characters are animals personified, but the story is centered on the main character who struggles to write and has to ask for help, which is a real situation that happens to children all the time.
Target audience: Primary. Students in the lower grades of PreK to 2nd grade will relate to the main characters struggle to write correctly. They will also connect to the struggle of not wanting
Sep 07, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
Alexander, C. (2012). Back to front and upside down! Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Summary: The young student, Stan, and his classmates have the opportunity to write birthday cards for Mr. Slippers, the principal. The only problem is that Stan becomes frustrated with his inability to write letters properly. After encouragement from a friend, he finally decides to ask his teacher for help. He even found out that his other classmates needed the same help, which made him not fee
Izzy Anders
Picture Book #2:

Back to Front and Upside Down by Claire Alexander (c) June 6, 2012
Target Audience: Primary
Genre: The genre of this story is fantasy because it includes elements that are impossible, such as the talking, reading, and writing animals. It is impossible for animals to talk and attend a typical school, thus classifying the story as make-believe.

Text-to-text: This story could be related to a text on ABC’s and learning to write. In this book, Stan becomes upset and embarrassed because
Sep 06, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ-422
Overall, I felt that Claire Alexander created a book that conveys the struggles of dyslexia to a primary audience. In this book, Stan tries very hard to copy print from the board to make a birthday card for his principal, but he discovers that his letters come out all muddled. Stan feels alone, but then receives some encouragement from a friend at recess. After coming in from recess, he is able to gather up the courage to ask his teacher for help and Mimi pipes up and says she is having trouble ...more
Brooke Kelly
May 01, 2014 Brooke Kelly rated it really liked it
Text-to-Self: When I read Back to Front and Upside Down, it made me think about an old friend I had in middle school. In middle school I had a friend who was dyslexic. The book highlights the symptoms associated with dyslexia and how to work on it. My friend had struggled with reading for a long time before I had met her. She often had to work with special reading teachers to help her. I felt a connection with Stan, the main character, and the struggles he felt writing a simple birthday card ...more
Dione Basseri
Mar 06, 2015 Dione Basseri rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teacher, parents of dyslexic children
Recommended to Dione by: Schneider family book award
Miss Catnip's class is excited to make birthday cards for the principal, but when she asks students to write "Happy Birthday" on their cards, Stan is terrified. His letters all come out jumbled! But, with the encouragement of his friend, he asks the teacher for help, and finds he isn't the only student who has a hard time!

This book won the Schneider Family Book Award, which is given to books which portray people living with a disability. In this instance, while it is never stated explicitly, Sta
Dec 04, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ-422
Back to Front and Upside Down! is a story that features a little boy named Stan. At school it is Mr. Slipper’s birthday, and the class decides to make birthday cards for their principal’s big day. Stan is so excited about this assignment, until he realizes that writing will be involved. He tries to write the letters that his teacher prints on the board, but Stan’s letters come out all wrong. Stan is too embarrassed to ask for help, until he finally tells his friend about his frustration. In the ...more
Kristen I
Dec 16, 2014 Kristen I rated it really liked it
Shelves: 422-books
This is a fictional story of how a young puppy named Stan struggles to write like the rest of his classmates. He attempts to make a birthday card for his principal but the letters come out all messy and wrong. He doesn't want the other students to laugh at him so he stays quiet until a friend offers advice at recess time. He finds out that asking for help isn't so uncommon or embarrassing after all!

I liked this story for younger children because it is easily relative to the struggles they often
Libby Hutchison
Sep 02, 2015 Libby Hutchison rated it really liked it
Back to Front and Upside Down is a wonderful children's book. In summary, this is about a little boy learning to write at school. His teacher is teaching the students how to write Happy Birthday cards during class. He starts to panic when he realizes that he actually needs to know how to write to write a birthday card. He starts writing and realizes that his letters don't look quite right. He's looking around and realizing that all his classmates seem to know how to write except for him. After ...more
Tina Sample
Jun 18, 2015 Tina Sample rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
My text to self connection is that I was a special education para while I was finishing my teaching degree and so I really enjoyed the kind, simple way the topic was presented in this book.

This book is culturally specific to children with disabilities because, according to, about 17% of the population has some varying level of dyslexia. While many will go undiagnosed because they have learned to cope with or hide their disability, many will struggle. This book shows that when children ca
Emily Garrison
Sep 08, 2016 Emily Garrison rated it it was amazing
This book won Schneider Family Award. This was a cute story about a boy who had difficulty writing, even when he was asked to copy words down on paper. At first he was sad and afraid to ask for help. Finally, a friend talked him into asking for help and soon, after working with the teacher, the boy could write like the other students. It's a story about feeling not good enough, feeling scared to ask for help and feeling proud because when you overcome fears and ask for a little assistance, you ...more
Stan is very excited when Principal Slippers announces to his class that it's his birthday that day and they will be having a party later in the day. Teacher, Mrs. Catnip, announces that they will be making birthday cards for the principal. As excited as Stan is he can't resist starting his drawing write away when he gets his paper. When Mrs. Catnip says it looks good but to slow down because there is going to be writing on the card too, Stan becomes discouraged. He didn't know there would be ...more
Jordan Davidson
May 07, 2015 Jordan Davidson rated it it was amazing
Back to Front and Upside Down!
Claire Alexander
Gullane Children’s Books, 2012

Summary: Stan has been asked to create a birthday card for his principal Mr. Slippers. However, Stan becomes angry with himself when he realizes that he is having trouble writing the words he is supposed to write. He is particularly driven to frustration when he has trouble writing his own name. Additionally, he’s too embarrassed to ask his teacher for help – he doesn’t want to look stupid. Eventually though, he asks his
Kym Winchester
Mar 19, 2013 Kym Winchester rated it really liked it
Audience: This book would be best for pre-school to early primary grades, perhaps through first grade to early second grade. This is due to the book having an easy and sweet style, with adorable drawings with animals experiencing a school day experience.

Appeal: Children who love animals and pretend stories of them experiencing life like a little boy or girl do would enjoy this story! Also, any child who feels different and sometimes sad about those feelings could really relate and feel better he
Nov 21, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing
The first thing that caught my attention in this book was the colors. There were so many which really drew in my attention. They are fun and each animal has their own personality. This book touched me and sent a great message. It told of stand struggling with his writing and getting very sad and frustrated when he could not write like the other kids. His letters were back and front and upside down. When he finally built up the courage he asked Mrs. Catnip for help. Another students as also ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This was the adorable story of a young pig struggling writing a birthday card to the school’s principal. The story follows Stan the pig as he gets the assignment, tries to start writing his card, and then realizes that he might need some assistance to get the finished product he hopes for.

The story is not only about learning to write, but also learning that is okay to ask for help without needing to feel embarrassed. I loved that the book was so relatable since learning anything for the first t
Melissa McMaster
Apr 29, 2014 Melissa McMaster rated it really liked it
This book is so cute, and it accurately depicts a fear common among students: that they are falling behind but they don’t want to be made fun of for asking for help. A lot of students feel pressured into learning at a certain pace, and they struggle as a result. Stan was so excited to draw pictures for a birthday card for his principal, but was instantly terrified when he heard they he had to write “Happy Birthday” on the card. Stan is still having trouble learning how to write his letters, and ...more
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Mar 29, 2013 Erik This Kid Reviews Books rated it it was amazing
Stan wants to do a great birthday card for Mr. Slippers, the principal. But when he tries to write, his words come out back to front and upside down! Stan is afraid to ask for help because he thinks everyone will laugh at him. What will Stan do?

Why I liked this book – First off, the illustrations are CUTE! I love that the kids are animals too, meaning it can be any kid. That is a great message. I like how Stan handles his problem. Jack was a great friend to Stan and I would love it if he was a r
Aug 11, 2012 Diana rated it it was amazing
Another beautifully illustrated story by Claire. Her writing is touching and inspirational. There's plenty of action at the beginning because it's Mr. Slippers birthday (the principal) and the class busily writes cards for him. I adore Stan, the main character, who feels so insecure about his handwriting, especially when he compares his back to front and upside down letters to his classmates, Lucy and Tommy. Within his personal struggles of feeling like he's the only one who cannot write, he ...more
Sep 05, 2013 Lynetta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
I read for Reading is Fundamental, a group that uses donations and grants to provide children books. The volunteer selects a book to read, books for all the children in the class, visits the school, reads, the teachers disperse the books, the books are returned! It is the best perhaps 15 hours of the school year.

This work has to do with Stan, who has an excellent idea for art for a card for the principal, Mr. Slippers, but is dismayed when it involves writing, which is not his strong area. He's
Mar 10, 2013 Ina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: storytime-reads
This wonderful book just arrived at the library and I fell in love with Stan, a cute puppy, in a classroom full of equally cute animals. It is the Principal's birthday and the whole class sets out to make birthday cards. Stan draws a wonderful picture, but when the teacher insists that the cards must also say. "Happy Birthday" Stan got sweaty paws and ended up in tears at recess, because he just couldn't make his letters look right, and he was afraid his classmates would laugh if he asked for ...more
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Claire was born in Bath, Wiltshire and moved to Kent when she was six. she has always loved drawing from an early age and remembers being asked by her school mates to draw rabbits for them! After school she studied Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design in Canterbury where she achieved a BA degree in Painting. She moved to London in 1995 and stumbled through many different jobs until she ...more
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