Rating: 4 stars
“The Friendship Riddle” by Megan Frazer Blakemore is about riddles — many types of riddles. The first riddle is why friendship changes. Ruth and her best friend, Charlotte, are no longer best friends. They may not even be friends at all. Charlotte has joined the “cool girls” and left Ruth behind.
That’s left Ruth immersed in her fantasy novels by her favorite author (pretty much the only books she reads). Now that Ruth has lost her one best friend, she is sticking with her one best author. Even when others try to get her interested in other books, she knows what she likes best — and she’s sticking to it.
When she finds a riddle, beautifully illustrated, tucked in an old book, Ruth is on an adventure. Like the protagonist in her fantasy novels, she pictures herself, alone, solving the riddle and finding a treasure. When it turns out that she needs help from others, she not only makes new friends, but she also broadens her interests and learns a lot about friendship and life.
Kids will enjoy reading the riddles and trying to solve them. The book has a plot that moves the action along at a snappy pace while still developing the characters. While at first, readers are tempted to make Charlotte, the former best friend, into a kind of “bad guy,” they will come to learn that there are no bad guys or good guys. Just people who change and grow.
It’s interesting that the main character in the story has two mothers, and she met Charlotte because Charlotte, adopted from China, has two fathers. It’s pretty much taken for granted throughout the book except for one part where Charlotte’s new best friend mentions it. It would make for an interesting discussion about friendship. What makes friends? Is it serendipity? Proximity? Common interests?
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Bloomsbury for review purposes.