MASQUERADE by Kit Williams, published in January 1987, who is also the author as well as the illustrator. This book is said to be one of the first “armchair treasure hunts.” Williams worked on these paintings for more than two years and he wanted to make sure people kept coming back to the book so he devised a plan where he would hide a treasure and the clues to this buried treasure would be in this book.
When I was little my mom picked this book out because of the beautiful pictures, she thought it was “a really pretty book.” The story is about the Moon falling in love with the Sun and asks the Hare to give a gift to the Sun for her. On his way there the Hare must go through earth, wind, fire and water and along the way he loses the gift. Also in the pictures the Hare can be seen in every painting, sometimes it easy to spot the Hare in others not so much.
I couldn’t figure out the answers to the riddles either:
“Fifty is my first,
Nothing is my second,
Five just makes my third,
My fourth a vowel is reckoned,
“Now to find my name,
Fit my parts together,
I die if I get cold,
But never fear cold weather.
I am the beginning of eternity,
Followed by half circle, close on by half a square,
Through my fourth my fifth is seen,
To be the first in every pair.
My sixth begins my seventh,
The end of time and space,
Not put my parts together to see what’s taken place.
The text goes with the illustrations. The paintings bring out one aspect of what the text says on the opposite page. The illustrations are so elaborate that you can’t stop looking at the picture because you have to see what else is there.
The age group for this book varies. I remembered I liked looking at the pictures but the story was confusing and intriguing at the same time. It was so nonsensical. Adults liked the book because they wanted to figure out where the treasure was buried.
Even the jacket is alluring and pulls the potential reader in. The colors are so dramatic and the main focus is a tree with all sorts of things in it, such as: a half moon looking down at a boy with a rabbit mask; pink flowers (like buttercups); a thorny stems enveloping the tree plus a town in the background.
I like the name and I think it suits the book. It’s a treasure hunt masquerading as a beautiful book.
I think the only thing about the book that didn’t work is it language. I don’t think young children would understand some of it:
The Lady Moon, disregarding all advice given to her by the other celestial bodies, had disobeyed Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, and instead of continuing her dance in her prescribed orbit, had stayed behind to watch with anticipation the progress of the little hare. It was in thus doing that the unhappy Moon was the instrument of her own undoing.
When the lady realized what she had done, and saw the hare falling out of the sky and all the other animals running in terror for their lives, she opened her mouth and SCREAMED. A horrible, silent, ghostly scream. The sort of scream that will turn the milk, sour the cream, blight a crop, and lame a horse as it stands in its stall. All the horrors of the night came forth in this one dreadful scream.
I think this book would be great for parents to read to their children and discuss what the story means and look deeply and wonderingly at the paintings.