Medearis (Skin Deep, p. 860, etc.) offers an upbeat retelling of a story that first appeared in William J. Faulkner's The Days When the Animals Talked, about a slave who wins his freedom by offering his master a riddle he can't solve. The riddle is an elaborate one: The text follows Jim for a year as incidents from daily life give him ideas for clues. In the meantime, readers glean a picture of life on a plantation as Medearis peppers her sure-footed narrative with a variety of inventive phrases and images. The large, heavy oil paintings have a subdued palette, featuring mainly Jim and others on the plantation; the different postures in which the characters are depicted contribute to the expressiveness of the narration, as if they were actors in a theatrical piece.