Key to the Treasure

by Peggy Parish


Peggy Parish's Key to the Treasure

Book review by Billy Dickerson

Ages 8+


Give your child a reason to love mysteries

Do you love mysteries? I bet if you do, you can remember the book that got you started. Maybe it was Encyclopedia Brown or Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.

For me it was a trio of siblings trying to solve an old family mystery in Key to the Treasure. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that this book was part of a series written by Peggy Parish, a woman better known for her series of picture books featuring a certain maid who has issues understanding word play.


Book review - Key to the Treasure

Jed, Liza, and Bill are visiting their grandparents for the summer.

Grandpa has an old family story to retell that has been told for several generations. Actually, there are two stories to tell. Basically, Grandpa’s Grandpa had inherited a collection of Native American treasures from an old Native American woman he knew growing up. Years later, Grandpa’s Grandpa leaves his family to fight in the Civil War.

His children are upset and don’t know how they will stay out of trouble while he is gone.

Grandpa’s Grandpa decides to create a mystery for the three children. Secretly he collects the favorite treasure of each of the three and hides them. There are a series of clues to the location of these treasures.

There are two starting clues.

The first is a large painting with four images-the Indian head dress, a small clay pot, a strange key with a hook on the end, and a large question mark. The second clue is an envelope which is given to Grandpa’s Grandma who puts the envelope in her apron, and due to a family emergency, promptly forgets it until it is already ruined in the laundry. The treasure is never found even though every generation tries to solve the mystery.

The day after hearing the story again Jed, Liza, and Bill are playing around with the Native American headdress and accidentally find the first clue. It is a word puzzle known as an acrostic.

They decide to keep their discovery a secret so they can surprise Grandpa and their father, who both spent a lot of their childhoods looking for the treasure, when they find the treasure.

Each clue leads to another clue, and each clue is some sort of word puzzle that the children have to solve. This can be a lot of fun if you take some time to recreate the puzzle and try to solve it on your own.

Even if you don’t take the time to recreate the clues, you can still enjoy watching the siblings try to figure it out. You can probably even catch some of their mistakes as well.

This was my first chapter book back when I was in second grade, and it was the first chapter book I read in a single day. It may be a little dated in that we read about Old Jane the Indian instead of Old Jane the Native American, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

Parish manages to keep the story interesting and the challenges engaging. Even though I know the story inside and out, I still enjoy reading it again and again. Check out Key to the Treasure and see if you can solve the mystery on your own.

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