Kindle Me a Riddle: A Pioneer Story


What is cider before it is cider?
Answer: apples

And what was the wagon road before it was a wagon road?

Answer: a buffalo trail

Constance and Jack and their mama and papa are playing a riddle game that stretches from morning to night, and as they stir up one riddle after...

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What is cider before it is cider?
Answer: apples

And what was the wagon road before it was a wagon road?

Answer: a buffalo trail

Constance and Jack and their mama and papa are playing a riddle game that stretches from morning to night, and as they stir up one riddle after another, young readers will delight in puzzling out answers that illuminate the details of daily life for a family of settlers living on the frontier.

What was this book before it was a book?
You can kindle a riddle, too!"What is a wagon road before its a wagon road? A buffalo trail, long and deep. . . ." So begin the pioneer riddles that Constance and Papaand then Mama and Jack, toospin into a day-long guessing game of common sense and fun. And once the riddles start, they crackle and pop like kindling aflame. Roberta Karims fascinating portrait of early American life is illustrated with paintings brimming with energy and authenticity by Bethanne Andersen and includes historical background notes on the facts behind the riddles.

Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2000, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council

Author Biography: Roberta Karim was inspired to write this story when she discovered that a lakeside road near her home was originally a buffalo trail. She is the author of two previous picture books, Mandy Sue Day, illustrated by Karen Ritz, and This is a Hospital, Not a Zoo!, illustrated by Sue Truesdell.

Roberta Karim lives with her husband and two sons in Bay Village, Ohio.

Bethanne Andersen's first book for children, Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne, was a Boston Globe/Horn BookHonor Book and winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award.

The artist received her M.F.A. degree from Brigham Young University and studied illustration in the Masters program at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Bethanne Andersen lives along a river in Idaho with her husband and two sons.

The riddles that a pioneer family share explain the origin of such things in their lives as their log cabin, johnnycakes, the broom, a cloak, candles, and more.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this chipper and informative picture book, Karim (Mandy Sue Day) and Andersen (Seven Brave Women) transport readers to 1850s Utah for a glimpse at family life in a brave new world. Constance feels terrible that she let the fire in the hearth die, and as she and her father bring home coals from a neighbor's fire, Papa cheers her with a riddle: "What is a wagon road before it's a wagon road?... It was a buffalo trail long and deep!" Intrigued, Constance, Papa, Mama and Jack exchange similar riddles throughout the day, woven with seeming spontaneity into their conversation. Aside from entertaining the family, the guessing game offers readers insight into the rhythms of another century. Readers learn, for example, that Contance's lunch basket was once "saplings that leaned in the wind" and that the family fireplace was constructed from "warm shiny stones in the bubbling stream." Andersen matches Karim's homespun, image-rich language with vibrant, airy scenes of a cozy, well-appointed log cabin and rolling countryside amply dotted with trees. She divides each spread into a column of text brightened by spot art (typically showing the "answer" to the riddle), and a three-quarter-spread painting. Her motion-filled oils are often bathed in soft purples and pinks or the inky blue of a clear night sky. A scene of the whole family dancing in the kitchen, "circling like cyclones," is particularly memorable. As a bonus, four pages of illustrated capsules at the end of the book further detail "The Life of a Pioneer Family." Ages 5-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This engaging pioneer story begins as Constance and her father walk through a cold morning to fetch coals from the next farm because the child forgot to bank the all-important fire before bedtime. To cheer his daughter and let her know that all is forgiven, he asks the first riddle, "What is a wagon road-before it's a wagon road?" The answer, "-a buffalo trail, long and deep," kindles Constance's imagination as the family rekindles the fire for breakfast. The rest of her day is filled with riddles, even little brother joins the fun. Each riddle explains the origin of a common item or aspect of frontier life. The oil-on-gesso illustrations are expressive and jubilant, depicting a day from morning to night. An appended section, "The Life of a Pioneer Family," offers an informative paragraph about each of the items featured in the riddles. A good choice for pioneer units or for sparking children's interest in the origins of everyday objects.-Martha Link, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When young Constance accidentally lets the cabin's fire die out, her father composes a riddle to cheer her up, spawning a riddle marathon as the entire family participates in creating conundrums. Karim devises clever puzzles that reveal the origins of items that would be commonplace for a pioneer, e.g. before it was a basket, it was "saplings that leaned in the wind." The riddles cover everything from the johnnycakes to Constance's cornhusk doll. An addendum, "The Life of a Pioneer Family," provides further information about the objects in the riddles, such as how a log cabin was constructed and why Constance and her father would have gone to their neighbor's to revive their spent fire. Andersen's oil paintings depict carefully researched, authentic scenes from pioneer life and capture the strong, loving family bonds that resonate in the text. The sparkling tale is fun to read and illuminating, and will round out any lesson on early settlers. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688162030
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD260L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.87 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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