[review + giveaway] Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña

I literally squealed with happiness when I first heard about and then finally read Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña’s new poetry picture book, Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections (Charlesbridge, 2019).

As some of you may have guessed, “Collector” is my middle name. I’m what you’d call a born collector — it’s part of my DNA. It began with Japanese rice candy sponge animals, Crackerjack toys and Golden books during childhood, and has continued throughout my life: character wristwatches, hearts, rubber stamps, stationery, fountain pens, finger puppets, salt and pepper shakers, pigs (a passing phase), tea and tea paraphernalia, Coach leather bags, doll furniture, music in various formats, Beatrix Potter everything.

And then, of course, my most enduring obsessions: foodie picture books, poetry, literary cookbooks, china and crockery (mostly English), and teddy bears (especially Paddington!). Indeed, we had to move into a larger house just to accommodate the bears. 😀

In Finding Treasure, a delightful story told in 18 fetching poems, our young narrator is feeling a little panicky about a school assignment:


My teacher gave us homework
that has me quite perplexed.
He asked us all to bring to class
something we collect.


All her classmates have things to share — marbles, arrowheads, teddy bears — but the girl doesn’t have a collection, so she studies the collections of family and friends for ideas and inspiration.

Her mom has a great box full of buttons: “shiny ones/of shell and glass./Pearly circles,/swirls of brass.” Such a wonderful variety that it’s impossible to choose a favorite.



She enjoys her dad’s trains (“boxcars, tankers in a row,/circus cars with beasts in tow,”), her sister’s pretty snow globes (“when confetti settles like sprinkles on a cake”), and her brothers’ baseball cards — so much fun to talk and trade!

Aunt Nisha collects and displays things from nature (pebbles, pinecones, shells), while her friend Meg has a cool collection of black and white animals. Seems one can collect just about anything, from birdhouses to clocks to dragonflies!



Best part is how everyone’s collections reflect their varying interests and passions, and how much joy they derive from both collecting and displaying their treasures. You can tell a lot about a person by what he/she collects. 🙂

Happy to say that after some careful thought, the girl finds the perfect collection to share with her class. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it is, but suffice to say, it’s unique, reflects her personality, and is a fabulous way to gather all the collections she describes in the story.



Michelle proves she’s an ardent collector of words, images, and poetic forms in this charming book. Her clever, inventive, mostly rhyming verses are fun to read aloud and will get kids excited not only about poetry but about starting their own collections.

I love “My Brothers and Their Baseball Cards,” a ‘pitch perfect’ two-voice poem with lively, enthusiastic dialogue between two avid collectors. Or what about the ingenious, “Auntie Kate’s Vanity PL8TS”? Over-the-top puzzle solving fun. “Asher’s Aquariums” is a deftly crafted counting poem, and in “The Gist of Collecting,” Michelle’s writing chops are on full display with the names of scientific collectors (never thought I’d see “dipterologist” in a rhyming poem!).



Thanks to Carmen Saldaña’s appealing digital art, the young narrator brims with personality, and she’s created wonderful contexts for each poem that showcase the girl’s relationships with family and friends. We’re able to get a feel for the young girl’s home and neighborhood, which illuminates the narrative arc of the poems as a whole.

The book closes with tips for young collectors, encouraging them to “Tap Into Your Passion” and “Share Your Flair.” Michelle likens building a collection to a treasure hunt — it pays to keep your eyes open at all times for a “new prize.”



I like her suggestion to think outside the box — beyond traditional collections like coins, stamps, rocks, etc. (there’s a wonderful poem about the mail carrier collecting smiles). One can indeed collect intangible things, and ultimately any collection extends beyond the objects themselves to encompass fond memories and fascinating bits of history.

Yes, the thrill of the hunt! The patience and anticipation. A chance to learn about the past. The creativity involved in preserving and displaying your collection. And I can attest to one of her tips about what to do as your collection grows — refine it, become more specialized, narrow your focus. I went from collecting any and all teddy bears to concentrating on Paddingtons in recent years. This helped keep things under control (and prevents us, so far, from needing an even bigger house). 😀


Part of the Paddington closet


Now, here are two poems that really speak to me — the first is about teapots (I have about 30, not counting the miniatures), and the other’s about a diner I’d love to visit (yes, I really wish I had a clock collection).





So prim and proper,
they perch atop cabinets,
adorned in party dresses.
polka dots.
Some tall and thin,
some short and squat.
All pose,
one arm akimbo,
the other pointing high —
while I choose:
Which will host
our tea for two?





The Rise and Shine Diner —
no bistro is finer.
The menu has quite a selection.

The food is inviting,
but just as exciting,
the owner’s alarm-clock collection.

Mae’s crammed several cases
with ticktocking faces
that ring with a synchronized chime.

The clocks and the crowd
are a little bit loud,
but our orders are always on time.



Do you think Mae serves three-minute eggs? I’m sure her customers always ask for seconds (but she’s never alarmed). Hee (sorry, couldn’t resist).


Mr Cornelius wanted to share his personal teapot collection:



And here’s one of my favorite collections: Carlton Ware Walking Ware, which I started when I lived in London back in the late 70’s. Every Saturday we’d go to Portobello Road Market and browse the stalls and shops. Whenever I saw one of these pieces, I’d snatch it up. I’m still actively adding to this collection via eBay. I do think the best part of collecting is that every object tells a story . . . 🙂


We have to keep the front door closed so no one escapes!


So, have you caught the collecting bug yet? Do tell!






FINDING TREASURE: A Collection of Collections
written by Michelle Schaub
illustrated by Carmen Saldaña
published by Charlesbridge, September 2019
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.

♥ For more, check out Michelle’s website, where you’ll find an Educator GuideStory Time Kit, and A Collection of Collection Facts.

♥ Michelle has set up a fun Pinterest board featuring Things People Collect.

♥ Enjoy this Finding Treasure Sneak Peek at Live Your Poem with some backstory about the book, and check out the previous stops on this blog tour as indicated below. 🙂

♥ Enjoy the official book trailer:






The publisher is generously donating a copy for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post telling us what you collect (or if you don’t have a collection, describe one you’ve seen and like). Deadline is midnight (EST), Wednesday, October 2, 2019. You may also enter by sending an email with TREASURE in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, please. Good Luck!








Fun reading the comments from all you urban animal lovers. Sounds like pigeons are more appreciated than one would think. Huntsman Spiders, though, are making people shudder (Mr Cornelius included).

We are pleased to announce that the lucky person who will be receiving a brand new copy of Wild in the Streets is:


🎈 WooHoo!! CONGRATS, JEAN!! 🎉


Jean’s favorite city animal is the pigeon:

Everyone I know dislikes them but I tend to think of them as beautiful birds who have a bad rap. Before I moved to Vermont from Boston, I used to
sit in the parks and feed them peanuts and scraps of bread. I think they are smart as can be and we cannot forget that they served in the military during the war. Haven’t seen many here in Vermont. I wonder why?

Thanks, everyone, for entering the giveaway, and thanks to M. Random Integer Generator, as always, for his assistance in picking the winner. 🙂



The lovely Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a nice weekend!


*Interior spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2019 Michelle Schaub, illustrations © 2019 Carmen Saldaña, published by Charlesbridge. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

71 thoughts on “[review + giveaway] Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections by Michelle Schaub and Carmen Saldaña

  1. Jama! I felt like I was with you squealing in delight. It’s really fun to peek at your collections as you share the story of Finding Treasure. This is an idea that will resonate with kids…of all ages. Thank you for reviewing it. I can’t wait to get my hands on it…even if it supports my son’s bottle cap collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m afraid that I collect refrigerator magnets, inter alia. Or that is, magnets that my husband won’t let me put all over the refrigerator so I got a magnetic board! The worst thing about collections though is when you move, as we just did, and you wonder, why am I lugging all this stuff, but you can’t part with any of it anyway! :–)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an adorable book! At the moment my 2 grandsons are collecting Pokemon cards, my granddaughters are collecting American Girl dolls, and I am forever collecting books, YA, and Historical Fiction! My TBR pile continues to grow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you think about it — most people collect books. Those American Girl dolls are wonderful; I remember when they first came out and I was impressed by the quality — and I bought some of the furniture for my bears. 🙂


  4. That last “Teddies for Tea” photo is very meta! I love your collections, Jama. What a fun book! At first I thought maybe I don’t have any collections, but then I realized I do have a shocking amount of tea. And I suppose a magnet collection. And probably books. If I hang around your comments, I may discover a bunch of my collections 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post so much! You are right about how collections reveal a person… which is why we ALL adore your blog, Jama! The walking dishes are a hoot! And there is just something so HAPPY about all the Paddington’s cozied up together. I come from a family of collectors, and I have more quilts than anyone ever needs, but they bring me such joy… and rabbits! So many rabbits! (Michelle actually used one of my rabbit pics in her book promo. 🙂 Thank you for your beautiful showcasing of this fun book. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love both quilts and rabbits (I was born in the year of the rabbit). I remember attending a couple of quilt shows when we first moved to VA, and I was just amazed by the variety and creativity. Antique/vintage quilts are the best, though. Talk about objects telling stories. . .


  6. I always enjoy seeing your collections, Jama, and I think Finding Treasure is a charming picture book. I’m a children’s author and former teacher and librarian so I collect readers – statues of people and animals reading a book alone or with others. They’re on end tables, shelves and fill a curio cabinet and give me great pleasure. Even the license plate on my car says READBKS.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Of course this book was truly tailor made for consummate collectors like you Jama!
    My son collects baseball hats. My daughter collects college brochures – she’s a high school junior (gulp). And of course I collect picture books. I will certainly be adding Michelle’s to my shelves of treasures!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am totally in love with this book! Thank you for telling us about Finding Treasure! My collection is/was children’s books (surprise!). When we moved a couple years ago, I called a children’s librarian and said, “If you come right this minute, I have something for you.” We loaded the collection into her car. My deep sadness at bidding them goodbye was quickly replaced with happiness knowing they would be with children — where they were always intended to be. Since then I’ve ‘captured’ many more wonderful books and will be releasing them to another library in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jama, your review of Michelle’s book is filled with so many facets that delight your audience. I am a collector and I suppose I get that wonderful trait from my Nonnie who collected teacups. As Michelle says so beautifully:
    So prim and proper,
    they perch atop cabinets,
    adorned in party dresses.
    I love Michelle’s book so much and especially the way you described it that my blog will be the added last stop on her Blog Tour. I am so excited about this and hope that I give the book a wonderful perspective like you did.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Crazy fun! And your walking dishes: I especially like the plate sitting with its legs sticking out. As for me, I collected seashells and little decorative boxes when I was younger, but you might say now I collect houseplants: 25 in my office/sunroom alone, another 5 or 6 elsewhere in the house, plus my sister’s (I inspired her!). And obviously, I collect books. I put together a miniature book collection last year: everything Bob Graham has ever written.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jama,

    I am grinning ear to ear over your thoughtful review of Finding Treasure. Can I hire you as my official photographer and publicist??? You make the book so inviting. Thanks for all you do to support children’s books and authors! Can’t wait to see who wins the book giveaway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, Michelle. My inner collector really treasures this book of poems. It made me think back to all the things I’ve collected over the years — too numerous to name.


  12. This book is getting a lot of buzz and deservedly so, I think. I used to collect rocks, but I have graduated to a small collection of storytellers from the Southwest and Mexico. I think I would like to collect your collections! So cute. Thanks for a fun post.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love all your collections, Jama, especially those Paddington bears, but each is special, and I love Michelle’s poem with teapots “adorned in party dresses. I have the book, then won it on Matt’s post, will gift that one to the girls. I’ve honed down the collections but kept my star antique cookie cutters & still look for old, small metal animals, always fun to look. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you shared those wonderful star cookie cutters (love them!), and I like the idea of small metal animals. I could easily be persuaded to start an antique tin toy collection. . .


  14. it sounds like a very fun book and one that is educational as well. though being a minimalist at heart, I have to say i don’t really get the whole collecting bit. I guess you could say my collection is open space which maybe does speak to my personality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you, Jacquie — my mother didn’t get the whole collecting thing either. Though it’s fun to collect things, objects require care and storage — when it comes time to clean the house, I wish I were a minimalist. Dusting is not my friend.


  15. Delightful, Delightful, Delightful! This is such a glorious idea for a book, and the poems and art shared just make me want to add this to my ever-teetering collection of poetry books…. CONGRATS, Michelle!
    (& Thanks to Mr. C. for sharing his teapots. I have some! As a kid, I collected little glass and china animals, which I still have. Don’t even ask about all the keys and such in my studio…..)
    Loved the peeks at some of your treasures! XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to collect glass animals — right after I read “The Glass Menagerie.” Don’t know what happened to them, though, they didn’t survive our several moves. I imagine you have a wonderful collection of antique keys and stuff in your studio. You have raised collecting to an art form. 🙂 Mr C sends his regards.


  16. This is a book after my own heart! Collections of shells and antique pottery are all over my house, and the attic is full of stamp albums from years ago. Your Walking Ware collection is completely charming, and all those Paddingtons! What fun! Of course, there are books everywhere, too, and I can’t wait to add this sweet book to my collection. Thank you for sharing it with us today, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a delightful post all the way around. You have me drooling over this new book, and I adore the photos of your collections. I have a few of the frogs from my grandmother’s collection. My husband and I started collection together—Christmas ornaments from places we travel. We both love reminiscing as we decorate the tree. My daughter would love your teapot collection. I suspect she has started her own. We both have quite the tea collection as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, I almost forgot about Christmas ornaments! We collect those too, and it’s such a nice tradition to remember places you’ve visited whenever you decorate your tree. My late aunt used to collect frogs too — they’re considered good luck. 🙂


  18. This book looks amazing and I am a bit envious of your Paddington collection, Jama! I no longer collect much of anything – too many moves over the years. When I was a child I collected Breyer horse figurines. I wonder where they are now??

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I went off to check my library to see if this is on order. I adore the snippets you have shared with us today. These days I mostly collect grandchildren. I have two two year olds and two more on the go! Other than that I collect frogs, books, yarn, fabric, and children’s toys to entertain that first collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is an incredible collection — so clever in the choices of collections and amazing in the variation of poems. The ending has a satisfying twist. Michelle is such a talented poet, and her additional information at the end reflects Michelle’s knowledge as a teacher.
    Jama, I LOVE the Walking Ware! Those are so quirky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with everything you said about Michelle and the poems. 🙂 The Walking Ware is a lot of fun to have around — they wander throughout the house. Only problem is they won’t come when I call them to help me with housework.


  21. What a gorgeous little book. I long to collect things, but must be one of those stones who continue to roll and gather a bit less moss, as it were. I still love my rocks and owls, though – I just collect the owls in stationery form – and since I also love stationery, that works out… and let’s not talk about the books…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I think everyone reading this blog collects books — food for the mind and heart. You reminded me that I also collect stationery — they kind of go with the rubber stamps. Problem is I need to send more snail mail.


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