The children’s adventure begins with a letter – an invitation to visit their mysterious Great-aunt Martha. She lives a train journey away in a house once visited many years ago by the children’s mother – a visit described, with no further explanation, as unforgettable.
When they arrive at their destination, the children are greeted by a woman who introduces herself as Jo, the housekeeper. Martha has been called away unexpectedly, but Jo will be their guide in the meantime and will amuse them with a treasure hunt while they wait.
Treasure Hunt House, created by illustrator Becca Stadtlander and author Kate Davies, is an attractive hardback picture book for children. It’s a book that begs to be picked up, with a gorgeous cover featuring gold lettering and embossed images from the story. Inside there are richly coloured illustrations that bring to life the textures and furnishings of the house.
There’s lots to explore in every room of Great-aunt Martha’s stately home. Housekeeper Jo has a secret of her own, too. Readers can wrestle with riddles on every page by lifting the flaps (there are more than 50) to reveal the house’s hidden treasures – a collection of famous historical and cultural objects including works of art, musical instruments, toys and technological innovations.
In the cabinet of curiosities, we meet Charles Darwin and John James Audubon, and we find out why the ancient Egyptians carried amulets. In the bathroom, we learn about the first known bathtub and toilet and discover when the first toothpaste was invented. In the final room, the toy room, Great-aunt Martha’s mystery is finally solved.
Younger children will enjoy looking at the illustrations and opening and closing the flaps, while older readers may be inspired to do some further research on the objects that interest them. Treasure Hunt House is a satisfying book and one that will stand up well to repeat readings.
Reviewed by: Jo Vabolis
Rating out of 10: 10
Distributed by: Murdoch Books for Lincoln Children’s Books
Released: August 2018