The Treasure Hunters: Lisa Thompson, author of many popular middle grade books (The Goldfish Boy, The Day I was Erased, The Rollercoaster Boy) has written another story to pull at your heartstrings.
Vincent Forbes (aka butterfingers55) is dyspraxic, but AMAZING at a computer game called Battle Doom. He feels like he is constantly being compared to his older brother Ewan, who is brilliant at absolutely everything. Told through Vincent’s eyes, we really get to feel the injustice and unfairness of his parent’s behaviour and attitude towards him.
An announcement is made in assembly about the annual Wilderness Challenge. A group of students has been chosen to represent their school, Linley High. Working as a team, the aim is to use hiking and survival skills to get to the end post first. Vincent, to his absolute horror, discovers that he is one of the four chosen pupils. His parents, who have been concerned that he’s not making friends, are convinced that taking part in the challenge will help him. When Vincent finds out who the rest of the team are, he informs his parents that there is no way he will be taking part. Two of the team are children at school who make his life absolute hell. However, Vincent nobly changes his mind when he sees how Lena, another of the four, is treated by Scarlett. She is a bully, and Vincent decides he can’t leave Lena to cope with her by herself.
Unfortunately, the Practice Day reinforces just how dreadful this whole experience is going to be. Scarlett and Josh refuse to help with putting up tents, and ridicule Vincent and Lena’s attempts at doing so. Lena seems intent on reading maps and studying books in the school library. Vincent discovers that she has a hidden agenda behind coming on the Warrior Challenge weekend. The book’s title The Treasure Hunters gives the game away, in that Lena is convinced that there is treasure hidden in Fortune Mountain, and she is intent on finding it.
The other teams taking part are far more professional, with correct gear and lots more practice, making Team Linley High (or Team Useless as they get called) look mere amateurs. Poor Vincent is wearing hand me down walking boots from his brother, which rub his feet into a mass of blisters. There are many stops along the way to relieve his sore feet, and many complaints about the unfairness of not even having his own boots. Despite the fractious relationships of the group to start with, they begin to bond over the situation they find themselves in. At Fortune Mountain, facing danger, can Vincent use his gaming skills to help? Can the group manage to get along with each other for long enough to get out of trouble?
In The Treasure Hunters Lisa Thompson has created characters that you believe in and want to succeed. Vincent’s dyspraxia is explored, but not in a preachy way, making it relatable for children. It is a heart-warming adventure story, exploring relationships both at school but also in the family. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put it down until I knew how it all ended! Recommended for readers of eight and upwards.
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