Madam and Nun and 1001: What is a Palindrome?

Written by Brian Gable

Illustrated by Brian Gable

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This clever book not only demonstrates what a palindrome is, it does so with a rhyming text.A palindrome is “a word, phrase, sentence or number that is the same when read forward or backward.” The words are obvious and easy to spot, but the phrases can be quite tricky and always intriguing. For instance, “test set” does not seem to fit the pattern but, once it is broken down, the pattern becomes clear. The puzzle becomes an obsession and has readers looking for palindromes everywhere.

The text is lively and, because of the easy reading level, one literacy activity suggestion is to use as reader’s theatre as long as the palindromes are in print or on placards so that listeners can see the puzzles inherent in the words. Since the book encourages making up palindromes, that is the perfect literacy activity. Students can list all the palindromes in the book and make their own worksheets. The students will have fun checking each other’s lists. The illustrations match the silly tone of the text. With a third grader’s love of jokes, they will get the humor and the subtlety of language that makes this book such a delight. There are activities on the author’s website from other books in the series: (

  • Madam and NunTITLE: Madam and Nun and 1001: What is a Palindrome?
  • AUTHOR: Brian Cleary
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Brian Gable
  • PUBLISHER: Millbrook, 2012
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-4919-8

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