“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles • Picture book

Spot the Plot:  A Riddle Book of Book Riddles
by J. Patrick Lewis • illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
July 2009  Chronicle Books • Ages 4-8
Story:  The book's jacket flaps tell it all:
Quickie tricky
book reviews
are intended
to amuse
readers who enjoy a little quiz.

So put on
your riddle cap --
don't fall in
a riddle trap.
You could be a
little riddle whiz.

Witty and wacky poems pose riddles that challenge readers to "Name That Book." With a glass slipper here and a spiderweb there, these thirteen fun-filled poems lead young readers to the solutions. From Goodnight Moon to Madeline, children and parents alike will delight in recognizing their most cherished stories.  A great read-aloud -- kids (and adults too) can't help but call out their answers!
Story behind the story: While reading about SPOT THE PLOT, I came across a terrific piece from Sylvia Vardell on her Poetry for Children blog (a wonderful resource for all things children's poetry).  She spoke with author J. Patrick Lewis "about his choices of poem forms and he shared this nugget:"

"Prior to SPOT THE PLOT, I'd written four books of riddles on various themes. I love the form, the challenge of coming up with the obliquely perfect definition—telling the truth, but telling it slant. Riddles are inherently interactive, so they make great read-alouds at school visits. In SPOT THE PLOT, I was trying most often to tell the book riddle in as few words as possible, as in, “Her hair’s/The stairs.” Or, a new one, “This trail becomes/A trail of crumbs.” The fewer words, the better, that is, the cleverer, to my way of thinking. Just as often, though, I had to rely on a tercet or a quatrain to tell the tale, but with a hint of confusion, as in “Pre-teen plays/a starring role/as she surveys/ a rabbit hole.” But, you see, perhaps that “rabbit hole” gives too much away. Writing riddles, especially for children, which means making them all equally but not too perplexing, is damnably difficult.”

J. Patrick Lewis has written more than 60 books for children; his poetry and nonsense verse have appeared in dozens of magazines and more than 70 anthologies.  He knows poetry and what works with kids.

Lynn Munsinger is a popular illustrator of dozens of children's books, including the beloved TACKY THE PENGUIN books by Helen Lester.  

FYI:  all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back and click on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say. (that was fast!)


Tina's Blog said...

I love this book! Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis is so much fun! I received this one yesterday from a Picnic Basket request and had such a good time reading it to my girls at bedtime. Each page contains a riddle about a well known picture book along with cute illustrations also giving a clue or two about the book. My oldest daughter was able to guess nearly all the books and I can't wait to try it out on some groups of students today. The only disappointment with this book is that it is too short. I wish there were many, many more of these riddles.

This is a great, fun way to teach riddles and rhyming.
Rating 5/5

GFDesignz said...

Spot the Plot was a very fun read and the kids loved it! It has beautiful illustrations and cute whimsy rhymes describing much loved childrens books and you have to guess what the book is! Oh how I wished it would have had more in it though! We were having such fun guessing the books! Also for the books that you may not have enjoyed with your children by reading the cute rhymes about them it displays an interest for you to maybe pick that book up on the next library visit!

Awesome Book 5/5

Nikki said...

I loved Spot the Plot!!! The only negative thing I can say is it was to short. I have two teenage daughters 16 and 18. I read it to my 18 year old first, but did not let her see the wonderful illustrations. She enjoyed trying to guess the picture books it was describing, she got all but one correct "Click, Clack, Moo"(too new). Then I had my 16 year old and her boyfriend have a competion as to who might get the answer correct first. They had a blast trying to beat the other. If it can pass the teenager test, then it has to be a hit! The illustrations give just enough hints for its younger readers.
Please write another one! 5/5

Nikki Mills
Indian Creek Library, Placerville CA

Amy said...

What a fun poetry book! This is a great way to not only get excited about poetry/riddles, but also about the many great childrens books that are the answers to each riddle. I look forward to sharing it with my library classes.

5 out of 5.
Amy Parker
School Librarian
Houston, Texas

M. Battista said...

What a charming book! I can't wait to share it with students. I love how both classics and contemporary stories are included. Kids will be enticed to read any of the stories that they are not already familiar with. I suspect they'll want to revisit some old favorites as well. Whenever I read a story to a class that references another book, nearly every kid wants to check out the book mentioned. I'll have plenty of other books to offer when I share this delightful book of riddles. I rate it a 5!

Denair, CA

janew said...

Ah, JPL at his best (AGAIN!!)!
The riddles are engaging and so very clever. Were all my youngers able to guess the books? No--but that led us to reading these engaging books with lots of rich discussions---and, of course, back into more readings of SPOT THE PLOT. AND A TRIBUTE TO FERDINAND--YES!!!!!
With all JPL's poetry, this gem continues our immersion in the sound and pleasure of the written word.
LM's illustrations are full of characters we want to be friends with and their expressions create their personalities causing us to want to linger and discover more.

Heather Hill said...

"Spot the Plot" is a treat! My four year old had such fun guessing the books by the illustrations. Illustrations are lush and magical. Riddles are clever and fun. I loved trying to figure out what the next one would be! I'm hoping this is only the first in a long series of Spot the Plot books.

These riddles would be great to use in a classroom before reading a book or even to "talk a story up" that students might not have read yet. These riddles will definitely get their attention@

This book is a 5 out of 5. I love it!

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

Julia Pitau said...

Spot the Plot is a cute book with an interesting theme. However, a few of the poems didn't flow smoothly for me. I, too, wish the author would have expanded a little more. As a side note, I did pass this book on to a co-worker with a Kindergartner at home and they have loved it so much, I haven't seen the book since ;-)

Picnic Rating: 3

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. It inspired many teaching ideas for all levels. I will read the Riddles to my students and have them write riddles for the books that they have read this year. Teaching plot can be difficult. This is a fun way to have the students interpret the books that we read in class. I give this a 5 in my basket.

Barbara Leitschuh said...

Spot the Plot is a fun read for all ages. Younger children will love the wonderful illustrations to help them guess the book while older children will have fun guessing from text alone. I am looking forward to sharing this with more students. I give this book a 5!

Lisa Kennedy said...

Spot the Plot is a fun book to read and keep children involved in thinking. There are lots of guesses but it's always a fun activity. Spot the Plot can be used with any age group in different ways. I have been amazed at how many older students have forgotten preschool and kindergarten story characters. Perhaps a review is in order? I love the book and give it a 5/5

Rebecca said...

I love this book. I used it as a read aloud group competition with my 6th graders and they loved it. It is well written and great to get kids thinking about the main ideas of a plot.

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