cover image The Impossible Riddle

The Impossible Riddle

Ellen Jackson. Charlesbridge Publishing, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-879085-93-0

A simple-minded czar loves his daughter-and her potato pancakes-and he isn't at all eager to see her wed. He loves riddles, too, and is quite taken with the answer a wise farmer gives when asked why the hair on his head is grayer than his beard. This question becomes the litmus test for prospective suitors, but eventually the czar is outwitted by a particularly persistent (and handsome, of course) chap. Jackson weights all elements of this Russian folktale equally; while her prose is tidy, she fails to build any momentum. The placid-faced characters in Winfield's illustrations seem vacant, and the action in her scenic, bordered panels is blunted by the crowded design of the pages. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)