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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Review: The Treasure Box

Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood are masters of their craft, so holding this book in hand is like holding a treasure.

The Treasure Box is set in a nameless war with a nameless enemy, but the story is universal. Families leave their homes, take whatever treasures they can, and seek refuge.

'For weeks they trudged through mud and rain.' The language is gorgeous, and the poignant illustrations paint a grey world.

Peter's Father has a library book at home, the night the library is bombed. From that moment, the surviving book becomes a treasure of the utmost value. 'This is a book about our people,' he tells his son. They carry it in a treasure box on their journey.

Sadly, Peter loses his father to illness, but promises to keep the treasure safe. Against many odds, he keeps his promise until he can carry the treasure box no more. He buries it where it will be safe from bombs and fire.

Evocative pictures show Peter's life in his strange new country. An image of him lying awake in a row of dormitory beds is particularly haunting.

Gradually the colour returns to the illustrations, and a grown-up Peter returns to his homeland and the hidden treasure.

This story is a reminder that war doesn't last forever and that the stories of a culture can survive even the bleakest times.

I would suggest this book for mature picture book readers, as people flee burning houses and Peter losing his father are strong and emotive. These images are a necessity in a book about war, but are the backdrop of a story which is ultimately about hope and a positive future.

All books are treasures, but most particularly this one.

Title: The Treasure Box
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Penguin, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 2013
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780670073658
For Ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book

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