This one’s not a happy book. There is war, there is death, and there is disruption in this boy’s life. The one thing he holds onto, after the library is destroyed, he has to flee, and he loses his father is a book.
There’s no backstory tying this to any real world event, but it’s easy to imagine this happening – with a book or another cherished item – in any number of recent or past situations where refugees arrive in a new land and rebuild their lives.
There are so many levels to this book for someone reading it to young children – the fact that wars take place, that libraries and other community organizations are destroyed, that people sometimes have to flee, that people die because of this, that people arrive in a new place with nothing and manage to survive and thrive…and more. Of course we want our children to feel safe and not dwell on the darkness in the world, but talking about it helps them begin to understand the world and their place in it.
The art in this book is detailed and atmospheric and perfect. Faded, torn book pages act as a background. Since I didn’t recognize the language (and I love languages), I put a phrase into google translate, “hogy ne olvassak,” and learned two interesting things. First, the words were Hungarian. Second, the random phrase I picked means “do not read it.” But do read it. Definitely read it.
The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood