Sunday, November 22, 2009

REVIEW: Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles

Lewis, J.P.  (2009).  Spot the Plot:  A riddle book of book riddles.  San Francisco:  Chronicle Books.


PLOT SUMMARY:  J. Patrick Lewis assembled 13 poems that reference classic picturebooks and middlegrade novels.  Through the hints in the poems and the illustrations readers can guess the books being referenced.  (And just in case there's a book described that no reader can guess, the answers to the poem riddles are listed at the end of the picturebook)

While the artwork is cute and child-friendly, I can't help but think it would have been totally AWESOME if the illustrator Lynn Munsinger had mimicked at least some of the styles used in the books referenced.  I'm certain the publishers at least considered that option.  While it'd be fun to travel to San Francisco to knock on Chronicle's office door and ask why they chose not to take on the styles of the classic books, such a trip will have to wait for a later date.  (Say for when it's really cold here in Columbus and San Francisco will provide the perfect vacation)

J. Patrick Lewis's rhymes are easy to read.  Each with several hints at the book being referenced.  Every now and then though, the rhymes did feel a little forced.  For example, in a poem about Cinderella, Lewis writes:

"This poor miss
had two sis-
ters who were
mean to her."

I don't know.  Separating Sisters like that for the rhyme feels a tiny-teeny bit like cheating to me.  What do you think?


If students have trouble guessing the books Lewis based his poems around, there's an easy solution:  READ THE BOOKS!!!!  Yays!

Students can also write their own riddle-poems about other stories they've read in class.  They can even include some popular movies or TV shows.  Or if a teacher wanted to stay with the book, he or she could xerox pages and have students draw poems from a hat to perform and have other students guess the book described.

Spot the Plot can also be used to discuss who to write poems.  Although Lewis always uses rhymes, a few of his poems play with structure or are only a single sentence long.  So, a teacher can discuss some of the preconceived notions about what a poem is.


"The sky shook,
the wind tossed
me in the air.
Toto-ly lost,"

"Imagine a castle
without any towers,
or a thundercloud bursting
without any showers.
Now imagine a bull
who loved only flowers."

"There is a book
I know you know--
the perfect bedtime
book, although

the rabbit who
has gone to bed
can't fall asleep"


1 comment:

  1. Oh, what a clever idea! (Though I agree, sounds like some rhymes were forced)



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