Originally published as short stories in magazines and put into book form in 1899, The Story of the Treasure Seekers is the delightful tale of the six Bastable children, Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel, and Horace Octavius (H.O.) After their mother dies ("and if you think we don't care because I don't tell you much about her you only show that you do not understand people at all") and their father also falls ill, "his business-partner went to Spain -- and there was never much money afterwards." As creditors start calling and the children must leave school because father can no longer afford it, they decide they must do something to restore their fallen fortunes. Each child comes up with a plan, and, well, their plans are hysterical. Oswald suggests stopping "people on Blackheath -- with crepe masks and horse-pistols -- and say 'Your money or your life! Resistance is useless, we are armed to the teeth.'" Other ideas include rescuing an old gentleman in deadly peril, using a divining-rod to search for gold, becoming bandits, finding a princess and marrying her, becoming detectives, and digging for treasure. Fortunately for us but not so much for their father, they actually carry out their plans and much hilarity ensues.
Written over 100 years ago, this book has never lost its appeal to readers young and old alike. My boys were ages 11 and 8 when I read it, and we all laughed from beginning to end. I recommend it as a read aloud because it's great fun for the entire family and because there are some vocabulary words that are difficult. It was written in the 1890s, afterall.
I leave you with a poem, written by Noel. If you have a child who is sad, here in Houston, when the dead June bugs litter the sidewalks, then you'll love this poem.
Lines on a Dead Black Beetle that was poisonedBeetle how I weep to see
Thee lying on thy poor back!
It is so very sad indeed.
You were so shiny and black.
I wish you were alive again
But Eliza says wishing it is nonsense and a shame.
"It was a very good beetle poison, and there were hundreds of them lying dead -- but Noel only wrote a piece of poetry for one of them ...and the worst of it was he didn't know which one he'd written it to -- so Alice couldn't bury the beetle and put the lines on its grave, though she wanted to very much." (Chapter 4)
Thanks so much, Holly S., for recommending this book! We LOVED it!