________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 19. . . .January 27, 2017


Pablo Finds a Treasure.

Andrée Poulin. Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
32 pp., pbk., hc., epub & pdf, $11.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-866-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-867-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-868-5 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55451-869-2 (pdf).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Tamara Opar.

*** /4



Pablo digs up a battered book from beneath a pile of old rags.

“Sophia, I found a treasure!”

His sister makes a face.

“Pfttt! That’s not a treasure! It won’t even buy us three tortillas.”

Pablo looks carefully at the illustrations. He wishes he knew what the story was about. He tells his sister, “I’d like to learn to read.”

Sophia shrugs. “What for? Reading won’t fill your stomach!”


The sad reality of the life of Sophia and her younger brother Pablo is that they live in poverty. In the excerpt above, we see that Sophia recognizes the hopelessness in which they live in and, therefore, she commits to working attentively in gathering recyclables on Treasure Mountain for her mother to sell at the market. Pablo, on the other hand, is not as discontented by poverty as is his sister, and he is less applied in his task of searching for items that his family needs to survive. He still holds hope that life will fulfill his wishes, including learning to read and finding a special treasure that could better his and Sophia`s life.

     The unforgiving reality of the children is described vividly and realistically with respect to the filthy and dangerous conditions in which they toil while sorting through garbage searching for useful objects that can be sold, used or even eaten. The priorities of the children are survival and keeping their treasures safe from the bully, Filthy-Face, who makes their lives even more difficult by stealing from them. Pablo’s resilient personality allows him a little justice at the expense of the bully by managing to save his most valued find of the day, a golden chain. The dark grey illustrations, drawn in heavy strokes, add to the dismal atmosphere in which children live. However, the illustrations brighten, and colour is added when the children daydream about what they would like to buy.

     Pablo Finds a Treasure is a good story to introduce children to the theme of child labour in developing countries where a child must contribute to the family income by working rather than attending school. The theme of children`s rights can also be applied to the conversation.


Tamara Opar is Section Head of Children’s and Teen Services at Millennium Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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