“When the enemy bombed the library, everything burned.” From the very first page, it is clear this is no ordinary picture book. This is really no surprise coming from Margaret Wild, whose prolific writing career features a sizable supply of heavy-going topics, ranging from death to ageing to the crushing reality of the existence of a class system in contemporary Australia. Wild isn’t afraid to give children something meaty and substantial to think about, and The Treasure Box is a beautifully crafted tale that will challenge adults and children alike.
The Treasure Box is the story of Peter, a small boy fleeing a ravaged, war-torn city with his father. During this time of tragedy, Peter is entrusted with the care of his father’s most precious possession: a book that he loves more than anything else he owns. As we follow Peter’s journey, he learns the value of sharing his story and keeping the past alive through the relationships and experiences he has in the present.
Don’t expect reading The Treasure Box to be a walk in the park: this picture book is about the strength and resilience of the human spirit, the horrors of war and the injustice of loss and having to continue on regardless. Freya Blackwood’s incredible artwork undoubtedly enhances the poignancy of the story and marries perfectly with Wild’s simple and haunting prose. Blackwood has used texts from other Australian authors who have written about war for children, including Sonya Hartnett and Morris Gleitzman, to create the collages used throughout the story. Through art, Blackwood shows the ongoing determination of Australian writers to ensure Australian children are engaged with the past and have knowledge of the trials and tragedies suffered by others.
Margaret Wild delivers again with this beautiful tale of war, loss, and the value of sharing history with those we love in order to maintain our connections with the past. Paired with Freya Blackwood’s haunting artwork, The Treasure Box explores some confronting and challenging issues with a style and grace that leaves the reader, regardless of age, in deep reflection.
Sarah Ireland is a Primary Education student who loves travelling to far-flung places, learning about anything and everything and of course, reading.