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). 😀
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.
Some tall and thin,
some short and squat.
one arm akimbo,
the other pointing high —
while I choose:
Which will host
our tea for two?
MAE’S STOCK OF CLOCKS
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 . . . 🙂
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.
♥ 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:
🐻 FINDING TREASURE BOOK GIVEAWAY ⏰
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!
🐿 WILD IN THE STREETS GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🙊
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!! 🎉
ENJOY THE BOOK!
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.