By Alice Melvin
Published by Tate Publishing ISBN 978-1-84976-516-9
Review by Spencer Hill
Alice Melvin has worked with Tate Publishing for ten years and produced several books and craft projects with them. Her book Counting Birds won the Book Trust Best New Illustrator Award in 2011. So you would expect that her latest project entitled Treasure Hunt would also be a hit, and you would not be disappointed.
The cover of the 230mm by 230mm book is decorated with many images relating to the activities within in the illustrator’s recognisable style. You can see the origins of screenprinting in the art work which is colourful and flat. Flat as a dimensional description that is, and very reminiscent of the superb animations I enjoyed as a child (and still do to be honest!). The back cover blurb promises to help you ‘look at the world with fresh eyes’ and that you will ‘create a book unique to you’ and it certainly delivers all this.
Inside are 25 projects over 28 fully illustrated pages which invite the reader to participate in their enhancement and completion. We have blank treasure maps to draw on, a butterfly in need of sequins, a clockwork car needing a key and one of my favourites; fruit which requires stickers from real fruit. The pages are sturdy and colourful, and the illustrations are beautiful and inviting and full. Each page gives clear instructions and encourages the reader to go and find the items needed, with some suggestions for alternatives and other opportunities for imagination (such as naming the island on the treasure map). There is also a page of silver star stickers included, which are required for the final task. The whole book is held together by a sturdy red piece of elastic fitted to the back cover, to keep all the mementos contained as it fills up.
If you had not guessed already then I absolutely love this book. It encourages movement and engagement, it is task based and has a sense of accomplishment and it does it all so charmingly too. I love computers and apps and my Wacom and all things digital and technical, but some times you just need to clear a big table and get crafting with real pens and that glue which feels all funny when you get it on your fingers. This is not a thirty two page book for keeping on the shelf, it is 25 mini portable treasure hunts. I highly recommend it.