The Treasure Hunt
Andrew Dewar was a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, and on the staff of the North York Public Library.
Sonia Craddock, the author of The Treasure Hunt, has taught children’s literature courses at western universities in the past few years; considering this, her book is surprisingly weak. While no one these days would be so old-fashioned as to expect children’s books to be exclusively educational, surely a scholar in the field would recognize the importance of writing stories that challenge.
And yet, this book does not challenge. It is the story of two boys, about eight years old, determined to find buried treasure in the schoolyard. They dig first in the long jump pit without luck, and then try the plots allotted them by the Gardening Club. There they do find something — what turns out to be valuable meteorite — though not until after they have changed their goal to the digging of an underground fort.
The kids are mischievous, disrupting the school and getting away with it. They do not finish things they start. And they have a number of other traits that might be considered entertaining under certain conditions but that are hardly exemplary. They are, in fact, bad examples.
In the end, they succeed, but this is by accident and not because of any direct action on their part. They are not challenged by events; thus the book does not challenge the reader. But it tries hard to be attractive, and in a sort of Enid Blytonish way it is. There is much to entertain in this book and little that demands effort for the reader. But it cannot in good conscience be called a good book for the eight- and nine-year-olds it is directed at.
A last point: the thought that went into the writing is called into question when at one point the boys are told that a scientist who comes to see the meteorite they have discovered is a meteorologist. Astronomers study this sort of thing, while meteorologists concern themselves with weather.