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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Review and Giveaway: The Treasure House by Linda Newbery

This lovely new book for children is contemporary and up-to-date but has a timeless feel to it, like a classic children's story. Win a copy (for yourself or a child) - details below.

Author: Linda Newbery
Title: The Treasure House
Genre: Mystery, adventure (children's)
Publisher: Orion children's
Published: May 2012
Source: kindly sent for review by the publisher

Find it at Goodreads or Amazon UK

The blurb says:
Nina's mother has disappeared.

She's left a message to say she'll be back, but nobody knows where she's gone or why.

Nina's father goes to look for her, leaving Nina with her aunts who run a charity shop. When Nina finds some of her mum's most treasured possessions on sale in the shop, she knows something must be wrong.

Soon she is caught up in an investigation of her own. But there are so many secrets to unravel. And once Nina knows the truth, will she wish she didn't?

A fascinating mystery, beautifully crafted by this award-winning author.

My verdict: a well-spun mystery, centred on the endlessly fascinating charity shop. Recommended for 8+ (and would make a lovely shared bedtime read)
Many of the ingredients of classic children's stories are here: a missing mother (because who can have an adventure with Mum around to check up?); endearingly mad older relatives; a mystery to solve; friends and less-than-friendly kids at school. Reading this had a nostalgic feel, probably because it is vaguely reminiscent of books I grew up with, although at the same time it is firmly set in the here-and-now with mobile phones and environmental worries.

Nina is a great character: grounded, caring and just trying to get on with things the best way she can. Children will relate to her with ease, and will be cheering her on as she works to unravel the mystery of Mum's disappearance. The aunts are fabulous creations and complement one another beautifully. The real star, of course, is the shop, and this is shown in the chapter headings which are all objects in the shop (many of which you can see around the edges of the gorgeous cover).

The main plot thrust is of course Nina's Mum, but the novel also manages to deal with new school worries, threads about friendship and a lovely sub-plot relating to an upcycling fashion show, as well as an age-appropriate consideration of mental health. There is a real lightness of touch here that makes this a cheering reading experience, even while you're in the middle of it, not knowing where Nina's mother is or how things will turn out.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. In the best tradition of children's literature, it raises some difficult questions (e.g. what if Mum just walked out?) and encourages readers to think about less-than-pleasant things, without threatening their security.


I have a copy of this lovely book to give away to someone out there (open internationally). If you would like to take part, just leave me a comment telling me either about your best charity or junk shop find, or about a lost treasure that you'd love to see reappear in a charity shop for you to reclaim. Each comment will get you one entry into my mystical selection pot. You can also tweet about your treasures on Twitter, using the hashtag #charityshoptreasure - again for one entry per tweet. I'll also pop an entry in for anyone tweeting a link to this giveaway (again, use the hashtag #charityshoptreasure to make sure I see it). I'll draw a winner on Friday 25th May at noon UK time. Note that this book is eligible for the British Books Challenge at the Overflowing Library.

For more about Linda Newbery, you might like to visit her website. Did you see her post on writing for different age groups here last Wednesday?


  1. Lovely review. If I could only think of one charity shop treasure! My luckiest find was a little red satin bag that I could dangle on my arm at a ball I was going to that night (all I needed then was a glass slipper but alas!). And of course, half of my English Lit texts were found in charity shops including my most treasured book - a hardback of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

    1. There is a brocante every autumn in our street (it's not exactly a charity shop, but there is some amazing stuff that comes out). As I was wandering around with my camera I found an absolute treasure: do you remember those toilet roll covers where it was a doll wearing a knitted dress that would cover the toilet roll? Classic.


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