I recently received a copy of The Treasure Box, the latest picture book from Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood (Penguin).
As soon as I unwrapped the book, I was spellbound. Drawn in by Freya’s gorgeous illustrations, by the boy sitting quietly, an untold treasure sitting on his knees, I sighed and promised myself I’d saviour every page of this beautiful book.
The Treasure Box has been described as ‘haunting and beautiful’, and while it is sad (it’s probably most suitable for 7+ years and you might like to coach the kids through it a bit), it is a incredibly moving lesson about the strength of the human spirit and the importance of a person’s story, it’s importance to who they were, who they are now and who they will be…
When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned.
As war rages, Peter and his father flee their home, taking with them a treasure box that holds something more precious than jewels. They journey through mud and rain and long cold nights, and soon their survival becomes more important than any possession they carry.
But as years go by, Peter never forgets the treasure box, and one day he returns to find it.
The story, and more particularly, the ‘book as treasure’ theme, will sit well with book lovers. The solace and consolation that Peter’s precious treasure brings is touching, to say the least…
Charred paper, frail as butterflies, flutter in the wind. People caught the words and cupped them in their hands.
Only one book survived. A book that Peter’s father had taken home to study. A book he loved more than any other.
When the enemy ordered everyone out of their houses, Peter’s father brought out a small iron box. ‘This will keep our treasure safe,’ he said.
Freya’s skilful illustration is essential to the story being told. The subtle three-dimensional nature of the collaged pictures ‘includes’ the reader, drawing them into the page and bringing to life the scene in a very special way.
The story begins in muted tones, greys and browns and dusty blues, and brightens as the story progresses. By the close, as Peter’s treasure is rediscovered and shared, the illustrations become brighter, reds and blues and yellows communicate a new hope, brought to be in part by the protection of Peter’s book.
In short, this is a moving, inspiring book. Read it with your kids, they might need help understanding some of the sadder themes, and do so understanding that this is an important story of what it is to triumph and protect.
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