Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review - Spot the Plot

I've long been a fan of Greg K.'s (GottaBook blog) Oddaptations, his wonderfully astute, sometimes snarky, yet always poetic summaries of well-known children's books. That's why I was so excited to open my mail today to find a copy of Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles.
Written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, this imaginative collection of 13 plot summaries is pure poetry, and a whole lot of fun. Two children, dressed as detectives, and their dog appear on each double-page spread along with a host of clever hints in the illustrations. The combination of text and illustration provide the necessary clues for "discovering" the source of the plot.

For example, one spread contains an illustration in which the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, an ambulance, a house (covered in vines), and a number of yellow hats with black ribbons (12 of them!) are falling out of a large book. The poem that accompanies it reads:
Being brave
is all about
getting your
appendix out!

Ambulance comes
and takes away
lucky me
from school one day.

But it turns
my classmates blue—
they want an
appendix, too.

Paris, France,
is where I shine.
Fill me in—I'm
I had to share this one because it is about one of my favorite books from childhood. There are many good "plot poems" here, some rhyming, some not. The shortest poem in the book reads "Her hair's the stairs." Isn't that brilliant?! I loved it! My favorite poem is for one of my son's favorite books and begins this way.
Dear Mr. Farmer,

The letter we're typing
goes under griping!
The barn is too cold,
I won't give the rest of it away, but can you guess the title of the book from this snippet? I had a terrific time reading through the poems, scouring the illustrations for clues, and naming the books in question. I'll admit that there was one book in the group I did not know. In the flap copy about the book I learned that Lynn Munsinger actually illustrated that title. Having read the plot summary, I now know I must read that book!

All in all, this book was a wonderful read. Kids of all ages (and adults too!) will enjoy puzzling out the clues and determining the titles in question. Recommended for all elementary classroom and library collections. (I also think it would make a great substitute for AR quizzes on these books!)

Book: Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles
Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: August, 2009
Pages: 36 pages
Grades: K-4
ISBN: 978-0811846684
Source of Book:
Copy received from publisher.

Other Reviews


  1. what an excellent idea! And if J Patrick Lewis is the author, I can be assured it will be a fun read.

    I got the Madeline one only...

  2. A thousand thanks to you, Trish, for the lovely review of SPOT THE PLOT. I thank you profooooosely
    (and you, too, Yat-Yee) for your
    mellifluous words.
    Ever, Pat