cover image The Apple Orchard Riddle

The Apple Orchard Riddle

Margaret McNamara, illus. by G. Brian Karas. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-84744-8

Mr. Tiffin and his loquacious students take a field trip to an apple orchard in this companion to How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? (2007). Before Farmer Hills (who is, refreshingly, a woman) gives a tour, Mr. Tiffin challenges the kids to solve a riddle: “Show me a little red house with no windows and no door, but with a star inside.” The students absorb the farmer’s explanation of the orchard’s operations as they visit the apple storage barn, cider press, and apple-peeling machine, while considering whether these places might hold the key to the riddle. McNamara’s conversational narrative lets the characters’ personalities emerge, especially know-it-all Elinor, intuitive Mr. Tiffin, and daydreamer Tara, who does things in her own time and in her own way, and who eventually comes up with the answer to the riddle. Karas’s wispy and loose mixed-media cartoons effectively portray the orchard’s operations and capture the camaraderie among the students and their teacher. This good-humored story concludes with a note offering extra apple and orchard information. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (July)