Monday, March 21, 2011
The Fearless Treasure
We knew all about Noel Streatfield, she of Ballet Shoes, queen of the children-who-perform genre. This book however was a story of England. We made it Lucy's read-aloud and daily traveled back in time with six post-war children. Summoned from various schools and homes by the mysterious Mr Fosse, the children - three boys and three girls - come from a range of backgrounds. There's Selina, from 'the finest girls' school in the country', the matter-of fact John who can make or mend, feisty Londoner Elizabeth, unloved and wealthy Robert, down-to - earth Yorkshire lass Grace and studious parson's son William.
The children are taken on a quest by Mr Fosse, back through England's history, from Britons to the Victorians and each child discovers along the way his or her own family heritage and use their knowledge, at the novel's conclusion, to compete against each other for a prize. Told as a narrative, The Fearless Treasure captures the flow of English history from ancient times onwards and explores the contributions made to English civilisation by the people and culture from each wave of invasion or settlement.
Black and white sketches by Dorothea Braby break up the text here and there but this history-story never really needs the pause. If read with a hyper-critical eye, an adult might take issue with an undertone of nationalism, made explicit in Fosse's toast at the book's end "to a proud and fearless England". Published in 1953, not a decade after WW2, I find this bias excusable to a certain extent - something I might mention to an older reader but wouldn't allow to diminish the value and pleasure of the book as a whole.
Highly recommended if you're in the mood for a treasure hunt of your own! It's OOP but available here and there.
For more lovely books -and really, who can resist! - visit Book Sharing Monday at Canadian Home Learning.