Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles
January 9, 2012 in Elementary Educators, Lewis J. Patrick, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, Reading Skills, Rhyming Words, Shared Writing Tags: children's literature, rhyming picture book, riddle books, story elements
*Picture book for preschoolers through third graders (Written by J. Patrick Lewis; Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger)
*A young girl and boy detective as main characters
*Rating: I L. O. V. E. this book. What a clever idea! Spot the Plot can be used in any elementary classroom, really, and actually older kids will be better at guessing the riddles. Brilliant and cute illustrations, too.
Short, short summary: I love this book–as I said above. J. Patrick Lewis has taken 13 children’s stories–some classics and some new favorites–and written riddles to go with each. When you read a page in the book, it is a poem/rhyme that leads you to guess which book he is talking about. Here’s a really simple one: “Her hair’s the stairs.” (SO CLEVER!) Others are more detailed and longer, such as the one for The Polar Express, which begins: “One special train. One little boy. One Christmas gift–not quite a toy.” On each page’s illustration, a book is covering part of the characters or setting that are trying to spill out on to the picture, and there are two kids with magnifying glasses, looking for clues to figure out the riddles. Children can read this book on their own because the answers are all at the end of the book. I can’t wait for the sequel. . .
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Besides the obvious activity of reading the poems aloud and allowing children to guess the story or character, you can also share a story that children had trouble guessing. One that might not be as well known is Ferdinand the Bull or Tacky the Penguin. Once all the riddles have been figured out, students can vote on which story they liked the best out of the ones featured in the book.
2. The next obvious lesson is allowing students to write their own riddles for a favorite book. Let them know it helps if the book or the character is well-known. Ask them to try to make it rhyme if possible, and you can actually help them with that. Talk about how the riddles in Spot the Plot focus on main characters and events that most people know about, and so their riddles should do the same thing. Students can read their work aloud when finished to see who can guess the riddle.
3. Plot–it’s such a HUGE concept and important one for children to start grasping. Talk to students about the plots in each book. What is the climax? What’s the problem? The resolution? And so on. To extend the activity, ask students to create a story map of one of the stories featured in the book. When I did story maps with my students, I would ask them to re-tell the story in illustrations, like a comic strip, if possible for an extra challenge and fun.