Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book #89: Guess Again! by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Adam Rex

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This silly guessing book will flip your perceptions upside down. Each page features a riddle next to a picture with an element missing or hidden. The riddle always asks the reader to guess what it is, but the answer is never exactly what you think! Take this riddle for example:

“Their fleece is warm and woolly white.
And when you lie awake at night,
Count them and you’ll fall asleep.
A guess? Why, yes! A flock of…”

Did you guess sheep? Don’t be silly! It’s a flock of abominable snow monsters!

The illustrations feature realistic set-ups for each of the riddles and then when the answer is revealed the hidden characters are slightly exaggerated, with big feet and ears. There are only 8 riddles in the book, just enough to so that kids figure out the game and can play along, but not so only that the riddles become tedious.

After you read each riddle, pause and encourage kids to shout out their guesses. This book is best with preschool and elementary kids who will be able to understand how Barnett and Rex are playing with expectations. After you read the book, talk about this idea, as well as the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” The cover of this book is a great starting point for this discussion. The outside shows a flamingo by an egg, so the natural assumption is that a flamingo will hatch from the egg. But open the book and the endpapers show a robot popping out of the egg!

Work with kids to write their own riddles and accompanying illustrations. If you’re short on time, have children pick riddles from a book such as Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, and When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Karen Dugan. Next, have the kids draw two illustrations. One that goes with the riddle and one that shows the answer.


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