Tag Archives: treasure

The Pirate Train by Nicole Plyler Fisk


piratetraincoverThe Pirate Train by Nicole Plyler Fisk, with Jack Fisk and illustrated by Chad Vivas, picture book, published by Grog Blossom Press in 2015.

The Yo-Ho-Matey family are seafaring pirates, until one day Pirate Bro develops a nasty case of sea-sickness. The whole family looks for a new method of transportation off the oceans, settling on a train, in which they can travel around looking for treasure.

Overall I liked this fun tale of sticking together as a family no matter what happens. My kids liked it too. It was a good reminder that family is important, and that as long as we have our family around for support we can adapt to any situation we find ourselves in.

Whilst the text does rhyme, it didn’t flow as nicely as I would have liked. It just lacked the rhythm I was expecting, so it didn’t sound as nice read aloud. Having said that, my younger kids didn’t complain, and still asked for a second reading! They did have a giggle over pirates on a train!

The illustrations are colourful and clear, capturing the story well. Boy does Pirate Bro have some seriously thick eyebrows! That feature seemed to jump out from every page. I didn’t like the pirates’ black eyes either. I did like how they are dressed and the way that Parrot Tom is depicted with his little pirate vest and eye-patch.

This book is suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. The Pirate Train is the first in a proposed series following the Yo-Ho-Matey family on their adventures. It will be interesting to see where they travel to next and if they find any treasure to add to their hoard.


*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.


The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave by Brydie Walker Bain


The Secret of Sinbads Cave CoverThe Secret of Sinbad’s Cave by Brydie Walker Bain, e-book, 128 pages, published in 2015.

Nat, Jack and Kathleen Sheppard arrive at their Dad’s farm for the holidays only to be told that the farm in not profitable and must be sold. They are devastated, the farm has been in the family for generations and they love it. While they are still digesting this news, young Kathleen discovers a hidden room alongside the attic. Inside is a set of extraordinary items that will lead the Sheppards on an exciting treasure hunt. This might just be what they need to save the farm, but all adventures have obstacles. They are not the only ones searching for this particular treasure, and their rivals won’t let a few kids stand in the way of success.

The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave is a wonderful fantasy adventure set on the North Island of New ZealandĀ  amidst stunning landscapes and caves carved into the mountains and valleys thousands of years before. The story is fast paced and engaging. I read it fairly quickly and enjoyed every moment of it. It combines mystery and fantasy with drama and adventure to create the perfect hunt for an ancient treasure. It made me think of books such as King Solomon’s Mines, Treasure Island, and The Famous Five books, that I read as a child, and still love today.

The characters are well developed and written. I feel that I got to know the kids rather well through the story, especially Nat. Though I like all the kids, my favourite character is Abraham. He is an amazing leader and protector with a few tricks up his sleeve. As I read about him, my mind conjured an older, yet fairly spry Maori man with the whole wisdom of New Zealand’s history, spirits, legends and myths, as well as an extraordinary insight into human nature. What a beautiful character to guide the young heroes of the story safely through their adventure. The villains were equally well written, and quite dislikable in all respects!

The cover of this book is beautiful. It caught my attention, though it took me a little while to realise what the lights on the roof of the cave are! It would be such an amazing experience to see a cave formation like that, and it is the perfect setting for such a wonderful treasure hunting expedition.

While The Secret of Sinbad’s Cave is suitable for middle to upper primary school children, it is also an exciting read for adults. I look forward to reading Nat’s next adventure in The Ship of Sight and the Hand of Shadow, the second book in The Natnat Adventures series.


*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Treasure Bottle

The shaken bottle.

The shaken bottle.

One of the preschool classes at school made some pirate treasure bottles as part of their pirate theme. A was intrigued by the treasure bottles, and wanted to make one at home. The bottle contained a variety of items, including sand, coloured water, glitter, beads, pebbles and other crafty materials.

The bottle and some of the treasures.

The bottle and some of the treasures.

We used a clear plastic bottle to place our treasures in. Some of the treasures included plastic beads, coloured plastic, sparkly pom poms, cut up plastic straws, some broken loom bands, and lots and lots of glitter. The kids took turns adding treasures to the bottle, then I used a funnel to add silver and gold glitter. Once all our treasures were in the bottle, I filled it with water and tightened the lid. For bottle crafts like this, I normally add glue to the thread of the lid before screwing it back on too, so that the lid doesn’t accidentally come off and result in a huge mess.

Tipping the bottle upside down.

Tipping the bottle upside down.

Watching the contents settle.

Watching the contents settle.











The kids squeezed the bottle, tipped it upside down, and shook it. They watched to see what sank and what floated. They watched as the contents settled and swirled. They were mesmerised.

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood


IMG_1398The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, hardback picture book, published by Penguin Group (Australia) in 2013.

Peter and his father are forced to flee their home during the war. They take with them a book in a small iron box. This book is special to Peter’s father, and is the last remaining book after the local library was bombed. The road to safety is long , cold and arduous. When Peter’s father dies, he struggles on, taking the box with him, but when he can go no further, he buries the box beneath a tree. Peter escapes with his life, but he never forgets the iron box holding the treasured book.

The Treasure Box is a poignant story of war, death and loss. Peter loses everything he has ever known, yet he never forgets his father, his home or the treasured book. Some things are more important than gold, silver and rubies. Peter’s book is about his people, the people that were persecuted and forced from their homes, it is an important part of their history. When everything is lost, we still have our history and our memories. The Treasure Box reminds us of the importance of the written word and of history, which can help shape the future for the better.

The illustrations in The Treasure Box were perfectly matched to the story, creating just the right tone as the story progresses. Using subtle shadowing made some of the pictures appear to rise from the page, or created a looking-through-a-window effect. I also liked that some of the pages had parts made up of ripped texts, as if they had been made from the bombed library books.

This is a thought-provoking read for both young and old, and I found it incredibly sad. My preschooler and second grader were shocked when Peter’s father died, and the refugees buried him by the side of the road. They have never been exposed to war or its consequences, and this book was a real eye-opener. They asked a lot of questions, many of which I could not answer. They wanted to know why anyone would go to war, why they would force people to leave their homes, why they would bomb innocent people, why they would kill children, and how can we stop war. I wish I knew the answers and the solutions, and I wish no one had to endure the atrocities of war. The Treasure Box gave us a sorrowfully beautiful, age appropriate and heartfelt opening to discuss this very complicated and saddening topic.


Don’t Wake the Troll by Ben Kitchin and Ben Redlich


IMG_0859Don’t Wake the Troll by Ben Kitchin and illustrated by Ben Redlich, paperback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2013.

A group of dwarves make a plan to creep deep into the mountain to steal back their treasure from a giant troll. They wait until the troll is sleeping and down the tunnel they go, they have to be very careful not to wake up the troll. As they tip-toe along, there comes a noise, kerlunk, kerlunk. It is their shields banging into their armour, so they ditch the shields, the noise might wake the troll, and on they sneak. But then there is another noise….

A wonderful and amusing adventure with treasure and a big smelly troll. The story is clever and exciting. I just love the illustrations too! There are some very funny pictures that made both my preschooler and second grader laugh out loud. The dwarves look so funny, especially as they start to leave their armour and weapons behind. The troll is very well drawn, covered in hair with great dirty nails, a big warty nose, and flies surrounding his stench, he is funny, yet a little scary at the same time. My kids really got into this book. My preschooler wanted to make all the sounds as the dwarves move down into the troll’s lair. Don’t Wake the Troll also has a very fitting ending. This is a book to be read and read again, especially with preschoolers and children in lower primary school.