Carol-Ann Hoyte today

Hi Everyone,I love it when guests return. You met Carol-Ann Hoyte from Montreal, Quebec, Canada on July 1 when she posted her fine poem for two voices: “It Takes a Friend.” If you missed it, here’s the link: Today Carol-Ann returns with an interesting writing challenge. To learn more, read on!Riddle Me a Poem, Riddle Me a Rhyme
by Carol-Ann Hoyte

Riddle poems are an ancient folk tradition found in many cultures. One of the best-known, oldest sources of this poetic form is the Anglo-Saxon text, Red Book of Exeter, which is said to be over 1000 years old. For a contemporary collection of riddle poems published in the 21st century, you can look to J. Patrick Lewis’ Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles.

In this form, poets craft rhyming or non-rhyming text to describe people, places, or objects without revealing their identity. After reading or hearing riddle poems, kids can guess the subjects which they describe.

Not only are riddle poems fun to solve, they’re fun to write as well. Why not try your hand at crafting your own? If you want to try writing in this form but are not sure where to begin, these tips will help you get started. Choose an answer, in other words the noun (person, place, or thing) you will describe in your poem. Look up the answer in a dictionary and jot down its definition. Brainstorm a list of words associated with the answer. Look up the answer in a thesaurus. Seek out synonyms for some of the words on your brainstorm list in the thesaurus as well.

How difficult you make your riddle poems depends on the age of your target readers and how much of a challenge you wish to offer them. Keep in mind that it’s great to stretch young brains but not to the point of frustration.

To give you a taste of a riddle poem, here is “In or Out”, a selection from my in-progess collection, I Say the Body Poetic: Riddle Poems About the Human Body:

I’m the scar that marks the spot
of your former life connector
and your present lint collector;
an orange shares my name.

If you answered “navel”, you guessed the right body part. I think this poem would work with 9- to 12-year-old kids.

Here is another one of my riddle poems but written with kindergartners in mind as its target audience. This one is called “Colour Riddle #1” (working title):

A watermelon wedge wears me
and so might a pea or bean.
I’m a sometimes stripe on a candy cane,
I am the colour __________.”

Yes, the answer is “green”.

Check out these riddle-poem collections which have been published in the past 10 years: Heidi Bee Roemer’s Who’s Nest is This? and What Kinds of Seeds are These?, Lillian Morrison’s Guess Again! Riddle Poems, Toby Speed’s Water Voices and Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder. For more riddle-poem collections, consult the Oct. 28, 2009 post on Sylvia Vardell’s blog, Poetry for Children ( ).

So, do not delay a minute more. Fall into a season of happy riddle-poem making. And get your body down to your nearest bookstore or library and let the riddle poem revelry begin!

Thank you, Carol-Ann, for a new and different kind of challenge. To learn a bit more about today’s Guest Reader, here is Carol-Ann’s bio.

For Carol-Ann Hoyte, many exciting developments have taken place on the poetry front this summer. One highlight was earning the chance to have her work considered for publication in a soon-to-be released British children’s poetry anthology. A much recent and another highlight was being selected to serve as the poetry editor for Stories for Children magazine which will relaunch in 2011. Carol-Ann is an emerging Canadian children’s poet who made her debut in February 2008. Her poetry has appeared in Stories for Children and is forthcoming in R.E.A.L. Magazine (Fall 2010 issue), Anansesem: Caribbean Children’s Literature Magazine (September 2010/inaugural issue), Sheree Fitch’s book, Breathe, Stretch, Write (Pembroke Publishers, Fall 2010), School Magazine Australia, and Shoofly: An Audiomagazine for Children. When she is not immersing herself in poetry, she works full-time as assistant librarian at a boys’ private school in Montreal , Quebec , Canada. Carol-Ann loves novels in verse, limericks, and of course, riddle poems. You can visit her children’s poetry blog, Poetry in Bloom, at