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One Riddle, One Answer (hc) Hardcover – March 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-6-Fanciful Persian motifs and patterns set the mood for this original tale. When the sultan rejects all of the plans of his self-serving advisors to find a husband for his daughter, the princess suggests that perhaps she could pose a riddle. A smart and well-educated young woman who loves numbers most of all, Aziza creates a clever conundrum and then travels around the kingdom to find the man who can solve it. Just as she is about to give up hope of finding the perfect husband, a young farmer solves the riddle, explaining his answer to her satisfaction. While most children under third grade will not understand fully the mathematical solution of the riddle, which involves place value, fractions, and multiplication, readers of all ages will appreciate the gorgeous acrylic paintings that feature a broad palette of colors, including every imaginable shade of blue and purple. Playing with perspective and pattern, the artist and author have created a fairy-tale world in which numbers appear in the clouds, on the sides of horses, and even in the sands of the desert. It is a world in which the pursuits of the mind are as important to young princesses as they are to young princes.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


A math-loving sultana challenges her suitors to solve a riddle in an original tale that puts an appealingly independent young woman in charge of a traditional fairytale style "beauty contest." A powerful Persian sultan wants only the best of husband for his only daughter, Aziza, and when his advisors fail him, he allows her to dictate the terms of her courtship. She announces that she will marry whoever can answer her riddle: "Placed above, it makes greater things small. Placed beside, it makes small things greater. In matters that count, it always comes first. Where others increase, it keeps all things the same. What is it?" An astronomer, a soldier, and a merchant in turn fail to solve the riddle, but Ahmed, a young farmer who loves numbers, answers the riddle and wins the sultana's hand. Aziza's riddle is tricky enough to be satisfying but not too obscure for older children to solve on their own. Thompson (Mouse's First Halloween, p 968, etc.) includes an author's note explaining the riddle and its solution fully, as well as Persia's place in the history of mathematics. Wingerter's (Bird Tales from Near and Far, 1998) delicate jewel-and-pastel acrylics evoke a glowing storybook Persia, and cleverly illustrate the solution to the riddles as Ahmed answers it. Taken down to its bare bones, the books marriage plot is as old as the hills, but Aziza's intelligence and the lovely illustrations make a pleasing example thereof.
--Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2000

The learned daughter of a Persian sultan takes center stage in Thompson's (Love One Another, The Last Days of Jesus) feminist tale with a mathematical twist. When, it comes time for Aziza to marry, the clever young woman calls on her love of numbers and riddles to devise a means of finding a husband. "Let me pose a riddle.... The riddle has but one true answer. Whoever can answer the riddle- will be the one I would be happiest to marry," she tells her father. After an astronomer, a soldier and a merchant each supply an answer that solves only one portion 6f the riddle, a humble farmer gets all four parts right and wins Aziza's hand. Thompson chooses her riddle wisely, since it presents a challenge for her audience, yet perspicacious readers can solve it by themselves. As the successful suitor explains his numerical solution to the riddle Wingerter works the relevant numbers into, her stylized acrylic paintings, which also incorporate Persian patterns and designs. The author's concluding note provides the thinking behind the problem's solution as well as a short history of Persia's contribution to our own numerical system. In sum, the volume's well- balanced narrative and art add up to an original fairy tale with an appealing dimension.
---Publishers Weekly, Feb. 19th, 2001

The learned princess Aziza persuades her loving father to allow her to pose a riddle in order to choose the man she should marry. Aziza's riddle confounds suitor after suitor ("men young and old tried to solve the riddle. But none had the answer"). Finally, a young farmer, a lover of numbers like the princess, offers the mathematical solution. The two embrace their joined fates: "With this answer, you have won my hand,' says Aziza; 'With this riddle, you have won my heart," Ahmed replies. Thompson shapes her story very like a traditional folktale and draws on motifs and images that will resonate with readers and storytellers familiar with wise princesses and their search for suitably enlightened or at least clever spouses. The author sets her tale in Persia, making Aziza the daughter of an indulgent sultan. The story is not linked to any specific source, although the author's concluding note discusses the complex calculations of Aziza's riddle and explains the origin of mathematics in ancient Persia. Thompson's storytelling is simple and elegant, her language is graceful and understated, the focus always on Aziza's ability to rise to the occasi

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 340L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590313355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590313353
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi! I'm Lauren Thompson, children's book author. Please visit my website to find out about all my books:

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bettie Fisher on February 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Young Aziza, the sultan's daughter, has been educated in all things, but her favorite subject is numbers. When the time comes to marry, how to choose her husband? A riddle, of course. A riddle with only one answer. She travels throughout the country searching for a man who can answer her riddle. An astronomer, a soldier, and a merchant all try, but fail. Just as Aziza is about to give up a farmer comes to the caravan to try to answer the riddle. This humble man knows the answer and becomes her groom. A detailed explanation of the riddle follows the story. The illustrations are beautiful. A great story, gorgeous pictures, math - what more could you want!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully written and illustrated, this is an outstanding book for uses in the upper-elementary grades to accompany a lesson on properties of whole numbers (the multiplicative identity, in particular), place value, and problem solving, in general. I used it with my course for prospective elementary teachers and they loved it. I know that children will love it as well. It also supports gender equity in mathematical ability.
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By Amy V 123 on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My daughter brought this book home from her school library and asked me to read it to her. It is a great story about a girl who loves numbers. And perfect for me to read to her since I am an accountant. I really like that the book is about a woman who is good at math, and it takes her a lot of time to meet a man who can match her mathematical genius. It is a cute story with great illustrations.
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