February 24, 2018

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The Riddlemaster by Kevin Crossley-Holland | SLJ Review

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redstarCROSSLEY-HOLLAND, Kevin. The Riddlemaster. illus. by Stéphane Jorisch. 32p. Tradewind. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781926890111.

riddlemasterPreS-Gr 2 –A British scholar of myth and folklore and the award-winning author of The Seeing Stone presents the very young with an adventure with all the marks of the classic hero’s journey. Two girls and a boy long to reach an island and its potential treasure, but to do so they must risk a voyage on the islanders’ boat. The mysterious Riddlemaster is their guide but not their protector; the islanders—all animals that could easily have come out of their own picture books—are both friendly and less so. To succeed, the children must overcome obstacles in the form of seven increasingly difficult riddles, and the menacing islanders along with scary sea serpents hint at the children’s fate if they fail. Jorisch has given this tale a timeless setting, and his playful, elegant illustrations offset what could be a frightening journey for some little ones. Although clues to the island’s treasure are incorporated throughout the text and illustrations, the ending will surprise. VERDICT Never didactic, this lively work stresses the importance of story and the written word and might easily be an allegory for the heroic journey all children make in learning to read.–Susan Stan, Professor Emerita of English, Central Michigan University

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2016 issue.

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