Thursday 17 March 2011

Children's Book review : Jack & Boo's Bucket of Treasures - Philip Bell

This book was such a lovely blast from the past ! As soon as it arrived and I started flicking through the pages, I squealed "ooooh look, it's Nanny and Grandad's beach !". Some of the photos are taken on Bexhill beach, just a few miles along the coast from my hometown of Hastings, so I recognised the views towards Beachy Head.

This nostalgia continued as I read the story to 6-year-old Juliette. The beach activities - rockpooling, beachcombing, pebble-skimming, ... - are all exactly the kinds of things I used to do on the beach as a child. It even mentions things that I always did as my guilty secrets but thought nobody else did, like popping the air bubbles in bladderwrack seaweed !

The "treasures" that Jack and Boo find to put in their bucket are also all things that I recognise from my childhood, but even as an adult familair with these things in the real world, I learnt several fun and fascinating facts. I used to love looking for and collecting pebbles with holes in on the beach and we used to call them lucky stones but I never knew that they were called hagstones or that they are believed (by some) to ward off the dead. I love the name "seaglass" for the little bits of green or white glass perfectly rounded by being bashed about by the sea and stones that are washed up on the beach, and I love the idea of calling them mermaids' jewels. I never knew either that the squishy bubbly white things that I used to throw along the beach were whelk eggs or that the mermaid's purses we used to find are shark egg cases (or that you should record them online if you find them).

Discovering all this new information has made me really want to go out beachcombing with the girls now so it's great to see that there's a beach spotter guide at the end (which reminds me of the I-Spy books I also loved in my childhood). We'll definitely go out treasure-hunting as soon as it warms up, and I'm sure I'll be as excited as the girls ! I can't wait to share my new found knowledge with them too.

I'm absolutely amazed at how much information is crammed into a kids' picture book ! Juliette was happy to just read the story and look at the pictures, which cleverly blend drawings and photos, but older children (not to mention their parents !) will love following up the story with a trip to the beach to find their own treasures or trying out some of the family fun ideas at the end of the book. And a fun (not to mention educational)  family day out in the fresh air is worth all the treasure you could possibly find, even in a pirate's treasure chest washed up on the beach !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £7.99

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