Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Product Details
Oodles of Little Riddle-Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Debbie Tilley

 Reader's Guide by Kathy Seidel
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1998. Riddle-Lightful.  Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 

Recommended Age Levels 4-8

Summary of Book
This humorous and engaging collection of 32 riddle-poems contains an eclectic range of topics - from beehives and dinosaurs to fire trucks and rabbits.  The amusing wordplay by Lewis simultaneously tickles the funny bone and teases the brain.  Readers will relish the challenge of locating a variety of clues hidden within both the pictures and verse.  Tilley’s bright watercolor illustrations are whimsical, rich in detail, and a delight to the eye.  Young and old alike will enjoy this cleverly-crafted assortment of poetic riddles from Lewis, renowned poet and author of more than 70 children’s books.  To continue the head-scratching, hilarious fun, readers may want to seek out this book’s predecessor, Riddle-Icious, which was also imaginatively illustrated by Tilley. 

Review Excerpts 
“Young wits will congratulate themselves when they figure out the answers to these clever brainteasers.” 
          -Publishers Weekly
“Riddles and rhymes blend perfectly in this giggle-inspiring collection of teasers. . . . Read aloud, the selections will be irresistible.”
          -School Library Journal
“This quirky and imaginative collection of riddles in rhyme will delight all ages.”
          -Children’s Literature
“Some books try to make language fun; this one knows it already is and invites readers to share in the revel.  Clever and cheerful.”
          -The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Questions to ask before reading
To activate background knowledge and to promote comprehension, invite children to discuss the following questions prior to reading poems from Riddle-Lightful.
*Before introducing the book to the children, ask: What are riddles? 
*After a few responses, ask: Where can you find riddles?  Then ask:  Does anyone know a good riddle that they would like to share?  The teacher/librarian might want to have several riddles on hand just in case no one offers an example.  (For examples of riddles, see “Related web sites/blogs”)
*How do you figure out the answer to a riddle?  If someone mentions the word “clues” ask them to describe what they mean by using one of the previous riddle examples.
*Next, ask:  What is a poem? Use open-ended questions to guide responses to include the use of rhyming/non-rhyming verse, careful word selection, and the use of imagery. 
*Introduce the book to the children by showing the cover and reading the title. Then ask:  What do you think a riddle-poem might be? and What does it mean by “oodles” of little riddle-poems?
*Looking at the illustrations on the front cover, ask:  What kinds of riddle-poems do you think will be in this book? Why do you think that?

Suggestions for reading poems aloud
Activity #1:  Oral Reading
Display one of the riddle-poems on an overhead projector or a large flip chart.  Do not include the answer.  Then, divide the children into two groups.  Tell them that they will be taking turns reading the individual lines of the poem.  It might be helpful to underline every other line in the poem, so that groups can easily identify which ones they are supposed to read.   After the final line is read aloud, everyone is free to guess the answer. 

Poems suggested for this activity include:  a Dinosaur, a Beehive, Teeth, a Cold, and a Marionette.   For extra fun, the teacher/librarian might include the sound effect of a short drum roll and cymbals (rim shot) right after the correct answer is guessed.  Some smart phones have apps for this and there are also MANY to choose from at

Activity #2:  Oral Reading + Dramatic Effects 
Show children how to add dramatic effects to poetry presentations through gestures, facial expressions, movements, and/or the use of props.  Since the children will also be reading the poems, be sure to provide access through the use of an overhead projector, a flip chart, or individual handouts.   First, the teacher/librarian will “act out” one of the riddle-poems from Riddle-Lightful.  Then she will ask “What is it?” Next, invite the children to stand up, read the riddle-poem aloud together, and “act it out.”  Invite children to suggest new movements or gestures.  Repeat the activity with different riddle-poems from the book.

Poems suggested for this activity include: an Onion, a High Diver, and a Computer.  For the Onion riddle-poem, use body movements to indicate removing layers of clothing, a sad face, and wiping away tears.   For the High Diver riddle-poem, don a polka-dotted swim cap and goggles, pretend to inch toward the edge of the diving board, and with fear and excitement, move arms into a diving position.  For the Computer riddle-poem, pretend to hold a “tiny chip”, point to your “brain”, flex your muscles for “powerful”, pretend to be looking out on the “world”, and then move your fingers like you’re typing on a keyboard while looking at the computer screen.  This valuable website offers tips for teaching children how to perform poetry:

Activity #3:   Riddle-Poem Presentations
Type individual poems from Riddle-Lightful onto white paper and place them into a basket.  In pairs, children will select one of the poems.  Tell them to keep the answer to themselves.  Each pair of students will then decide:

1) how to read the poem aloud to the class (i.e. one person or by alternating lines);
2) whether or not to use dramatic effects;
3) how to conduct certain dramatic effects. 

Schedule a daily “Riddle Break” to allow different pairs of students to present their riddle-poems to the class.  Remind students to give the audience plenty of time to guess the correct answer. 

Any of the poems in Riddle-Lightful can be used for this activity.  To ensure “equal opportunity guessing” for everyone, however, try to use only those riddle-poems that have not been previously presented through other activities or read-alouds.

Follow-up activities
Riddle-Poem Writing
(Language Arts) - Working in pairs, students will select a topic and create an original riddle-poem.  First, guide a group brainstorming session to identify a list of the objects, people, and places depicted in Riddle-Lightful.  Next, encourage students to suggest new topics for riddle-poems and list these on a chart for easy review.  This is a natural follow-up to Activity #3 above and will allow the “Riddle Break” fun to continue.  The following website provides simple teacher lessons to help children write funny poetry.

Here is a student interactive lesson on creating riddle-poems from the International Reading Association’s website:

Original Illustrations (Art) – Children will create their own original illustrations for one of the riddle-poems in Riddle-Lightful.  Provide typed copies of the poems for students to refer to as they complete this task.  In the absence of Tilley’s illustrations, students will be free to design a new picture that is based on their own interpretation of the poem.  Create a bulletin board display that will allow children to “guess” which riddle-poem matches each picture.  

Listening Comprehension (Reading) – Working with a partner, students will identify important words, or clues, in riddle-poems that point toward the answer.  For this activity, students may use riddle-poems from Riddle-Lightful or those that they have created themselves.   First, each student will pick one poem.  The pair will also need one dry erase board and a marker.  Then, sitting back to back, one student (the reader) will read the poem aloud while the other student (the listener) listens and jots down the words that he thinks are clues to solving the riddle.  If necessary, the poem can be repeated for the listener.  Once the listener has arrived at an answer, he will tell his partner.  Together, they will discuss the words that the listener identified and any that may have been overlooked.   The activity will then repeat for the other partner.

Riddle-Poems Video (Oral Presentation) – Produce a videotape of students presenting their own original riddle-poems.  Be sure to acquire the proper parental consent prior to videotaping children.  After each initial taping, allow each student pair to self-critique their performance for possible improvements.  Instructors may wish to develop a simple student checklist or rubric that addresses such topics as posture, gestures, movement, and eye contact.  Allow 1-2 additional re-takes until students feel confident in their presentation.  Share with parents at Open House events and give copies to students as keepsakes.

Related web sites/blogs 
J. Patrick Lewis’ website
[Personal photos, poems and riddles, and information on all his books]
[Riddles & poems - children can even submit their own.]
[Riddles submitted by children.]
[With kid-friendly topics such as “Homework Poems” and “School Blues,” these poems are fantastic fun as read a-louds and sing-a-longs! (Tunes included)]
[Teacher, librarian, and poet, Elaine Magliaro discusses EVERYTHING related to children’s poetry.]
Related Books (poetry, nonfiction, fiction)

Additional riddle books by J. Patrick Lewis:
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1996.  Riddle-Icious.  Ill. by Debbie Tilley.  New York:  Scholastic.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2002. Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes.  Ill. by Frank Remkiewicz. New York: Harcourt.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2004. Scien-Trickery.  Ill. by Frank Remkiewicz.  New York: Harcourt.

Poetry books to inspire new ideas:
Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1994. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Poems about Small Things. New York: HarperCollins.
Worth, Valerie. 1996. All the Small Poems and Fourteen More. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Topical connections to the Riddle-Lightful:  (Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction)
Bellville, Cheryl Walsh. 1993. Flying in a Hot Air Balloon. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.
Cole, Joanna. 1998. The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive. New York: Scholastic.
Florian, Douglas. 2009. Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings. La Jolla, CA: Beach Lane Books.
Gibbons, Gail. 2010. Tornadoes!  New York: Holiday House.
Kudlinski, Kathleen. 2005. Boy, Were We Wrong about Dinosaurs! Ill. by S.D. Schindler.  New York: Dutton Juvenile.
Lin, Grace. 2004. Kite Flying. New York: Dragonfly Books.
Priceman, Marjorie. 2005. Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride.
New York: Atheneum.  *A Caldecott Honor Book
Simon, Seymour. 2001. Tornadoes.  New York: HarperCollins.
Yolen, Jane. 1988. The Emperor and the Kite. New York: Philomel.

Poetry Teaching Resources:
Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem. New York: Greenwillow.
Smith, Marc Kelly. 2009. Take the Mic: The Art of Performance Poetry, Slam, and the Spoken Word. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Media Fusion.
Vardell, Sylvia. 2006. Poetry Aloud Here!:  Sharing Poetry with Children in the Library. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

No comments:

Post a Comment