The Riddlers

Jane Ann Combs solves riddles posed by her grandfather every day but she dreams of someday helping him beekeep. When tragedy strikes, will her riddles help Grandpa?

Classroom Activities

The Riddlers

Before reading the book, ask students to make predictions about what they think the book is about by reading the title and looking at the illustration on the cover.

Discussion Questions:

1.  Did the grandfather’s behavior indicate he might have a problem with his memory in the first chapter? If so, what?
2.  In following chapters, how did the author show the progression of the disease?
3.  Do you think Jane Ann and her grandfather had a close relationship? Give examples to support your answer.
4.  What are some of the major themes of this book?
5.  Jane Ann's best friend, Della, had a family member with the same disease and Jane’s grandfather. Why do you think the author added the best friend as a character in the book? Support your answer with examples from the story.
6.  What scenes do you remember best?
7.  Who was your favorite character? Why?
8.  How did riddles forge a special bond between Jane Ann and her grandfather?
9.  How did the bees forge a special bond between Jane Ann and her grandfather?
10.  The grandfather and the cat had a special relationship. Do you know an elderly person who has a special relationship with an animal? Explain your answer.

Further Discussion:

1.  Students will summarize the first chapter’s main points. On a board or paper, write WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY and fill in key details under each word after the chapter is read.
2.  Encourage students to discuss why Jane Ann seems concerned about her grandfather in chapter 1.
3.  After reading the book, invite students to reflect on whether
The Riddlers might help young people who are concerned about their parents or grandparents.
4.  Does Jane Ann remind you of someone you know? If so, who? And why does she remind you of that person?


1.  Write a list of ten qualities that describe who you are.

2.  Write a story (personal narrative) about something exciting that happened to you and someone you spend a lot of time with. Imagine that person has difficulty remembering the event so you are writing to help him/her remember. Make sure your story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

3.  Write riddles and share with the class.

Social Studies/Writing:

Have students create a handbook of guidelines for dealing with a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. Divide students into groups. Have each group discuss what they already know about the disease and then brainstorm about where to find more information. Then have students do preliminary research using such resources as:

-health, psychology, and sociology resource books
-other library books about Alzheimer’s Disease
-the Internet
-the school nurse and guidance counselors
-local organizations providing health services
-community organizations, such as civic groups
-people they know who have family members with Alzheimer’s Disease.

After completing their research, have group members prepare the written guidelines.

Invite students to create artwork—a drawing, painting, or sculpture—that depicts a scene from the book.