Tag: logic

The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton

The Goblins Puzzle by Andrew S Chilton

The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton (InfoSoup)

The boy had never had a name, since he had been a slave as long as he could remember. He tried to be the best slave possible, but all of the rules of slavery ran together and often contradicted one another too. When he is sent on a journey with the prince, the boy witnesses a murder and is suddenly free. Soon he finds himself in the company of a goblin who knows all of the answers about the boys’ past but is unwilling to part easily with them. The goblin agrees to answer one question a day truthfully, but goblins are tricky and can’t really be trusted. Meanwhile, Plain Alice has been mistakenly kidnapped by a dragon who meant to kidnap Princess Alice. These characters all find themselves facing issues of logic, dragons, ogres and other horrible deeds on their way to unraveling who they really are.

This novel is a cunning and complicated novel for children. It takes logic and loops it, confuses it and then shows how it actually all works out. It’s a puzzle and a delightful one. Young readers will enjoy the twists and turns, groan at the folly of some of the characters, cheer as others exceed their expectations, and those who love puzzles and logic will find a book to adore here.

The characters are well drawn and interesting. I particularly enjoyed the goblin, who twists and turns but also has a hand in making sure that things turn out right. The boy is a great protagonist, often confused and always seeing the world as new, he explores and learns as he goes. Plain Alice is a strong female protagonist, using her brains to solve problems and even charming a dragon as she does so. The entire book is woven with mystical creatures but magic does not save the day here. Instead, deep thinking and logic are the winners.

A puzzle of a book that twists and turns in the best possible way, this adventure is one for smart children who can use their wits to save themselves. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Knopf Books for Young Readers.


Review: Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse


Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse, illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer

Nasreddine and his father head to market together with his father riding the donkey along with a large basket of dates and Nasreddine walking behind.  When some men criticize them for letting a boy walk in the mud, Nasreddine heads back home while his father calmly continues on.  The next week, Nasreddine pretends to twist his ankle so that he can ride and his father walks.  But onlookers once again make comments and Nasreddine heads home.  The next time they head to market, the two of them both ride the donkey, but that doesn’t stop the comments either.  Then they both walk and let the donkey just carry the items for market, but the criticisms are still made.  Nasreddine makes one final try at fixing things: the two of them will carry the donkey!

The book ends with a note about the stories of Nasreddine which are told throughout the Middle East.  This story like the others about him are a perfect mix of humor and wisdom.  Here Nasreddine learns the hard way not to listen to the criticism of others.  The way that his father deals with it is patient and an attempt to invoke Nasreddine’s common sense and let him learn it on his own.  This adds to the merriment of the storyline as well as making for a very readable tale. 

Dautremer’s illustrations have the feel of a folktale with a modern edge.  The setting is clearly historical but the angles of the illustrations and their neat perspectives add lots of interest as well.  Nasreddine himself is a beautiful little boy, his round face and red tunic making him stand out in any setting. 

Perfect for sharing aloud, this book is a friendly and funny introduction to Nasreddine.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.