The Riddle of the Paper Lantern


The Riddle of the Paper Lantern


by Rivka Galchen

Illustrations by Elena Megalos

Yonder: Restless Books for Young Readers

From the New Yorker “20 Under 40” author of Atmospheric Disturbances comes the entrancing story of a girl named Fred searching for her mother in a fantastical world full of odd creatures, strange logic, and a powerful prejudice against growing up.

Book Details

List Price: $19.99 • ISBN: 9781632060990 • Publication: 9/10/2019 • 5.5" x 8.25" • 192 pages • Middle Grade Fiction / Fantasy / Adventure / Mother-Daughter Story • Ages 9 and up • Territory: North America • eBook ISBN: 9781632061003

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From the time she was little, Fred and her mom have been on the move—and Fred is getting sick of it. She’s about to have yet another birthday without friends. One night, Fred sees something strange in the living room: her mother, dressed for a party, standing in front of an enormous paper lantern. Her mother steps into the lantern and disappears.

Fred follows her. But instead of finding her mom, she enters the Land of Impossibility—a loopily illogical place where getting older is illegal, words carry dire consequences, and her unlikely allies are a depressed white elephant and an overworked mongoose mother of seventeen. With her new friends, Fred sets off in search of her mom, braving dungeons, insult fish, Fearsome Ferlings, and a mad Rat Queen. To succeed in her quest, Fred must turn obstacles into insights, and think her way out of a seemingly unsolvable riddle.

Gorgeously illustrated and reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Rivka Galchen’s The Riddle of the Paper Lantern is an instant classic for curious readers of all ages.


Praise for Rivka Galchen

“Galchen is, for my money, one of the most gifted stylists writing in American English today. Her funniness is otherworldly; she is the reigning champion of litotes, or understatement for effect. Preternaturally deft, Galchen can do almost anything with next to nothing.”

Lucy Ives, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Skillful, imaginative, often funny…. In that grand tradition of American innovators, perhaps Ms. Galchen's greatest artistic creation is herself.”

Adam Langer, The New York Times Book Review

“Galchen is to fiction what Ferran Adrià is to gastronomy, serving up the whimsical, the startling, and the revelatory in the guise of the delightfully familiar.”

—Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

“Galchen's sentences catch your attention and hold it with a tight fist…. Delicious.”

—Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Galchen has a knack for taking a thread and fraying it, so that a sentence never quite ends up where you expect.”

—James Wood, The New Yorker

“She writes like a wide-eyed oracle, in a state of knowing calm.”

—Jeffrey Gleaves, The Paris Review

“To read Rivka Galchen is to enter a wonderland where the bizarre and the mundane march in unlikely lockstep.”

—Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

“Galchen is an elegant and careful writer.”

—Willa Paskin, Slate

“A brilliant young writer.”

—Elyse Moody, Elle


About the Author

 © Sandy Tait

© Sandy Tait

Rivka Galchen is an award winning fiction writer and journalist, whose work appears often in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The London Review of Books and The New York Times. She is the author of three books: Atmospheric Disturbances (Novel, FSG, 2008), American Innovations (Short Stories, FSG 2014) and Little Labors (Essays, New Directions, 2016). She has received numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Fellowship, The Berlin Prize and The William J Saroyan International Prize in Fiction. In 2010, she was named to The New Yorker’s list of 20 Writers Under 40. Galchen also holds an MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Riddle of the Paper Lantern is her first book for young readers.


About the Illustrator

 © David Scott

© David Scott

Elena Megalos is a Los Angeles-raised, Brooklyn-based artist and teacher. See more of her work at