today’s children storybook summary is
Pablo Finds a Treasure
By Andre Poulin
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
The takeaway: All over the world there are children that work from an early age to support themselves and their families. Most of them work without pay, missing school, and living in poverty. The characters in this book are fictional but the situation is real.
Theme: Children in poverty, children working, child labor
Plot: Scouring through garbage, a shy boy finds a treasure he must protect from the local bully.
Moral: Do not give up, do not give in, in the face of adversity, but find ingenious way to solve a problem.
Symbolism: The gold chain symbolizes a better life.
Pablo is a shy kid but when it comes to protecting his treasure, he finds ingenious ways no one thought of.
Each morning, Pablo and his sister, Sofia, wake up in the morning, pick up their sticks and bags, leaving the shantytown to go to the garbage pit and start digging. They must be there early and wait for the fresh garbage to be dumped out of the trucks. They are scouting for items their mother may be able to sale and buy them dinner for the day. At the pit, there are many people, a lot of them children, doing the same thing.
Pablo, the little brother, never liked digging through garbage. His sister didn’t like it either, but she must set an example. Pablo dreads the stink, and the crowd, and the flies. Often time he wants to run away. But Sofia holds him tight. They may find a treasure that day, she tells him every morning. They keep digging and Sofia gets a cut on her hand. She doesn’t pay attention. She also coughs a lot from the gases that raise from the garbage and irritates her throat. Pablo notices these things about her sister.
This morning they find a blue boot and two wrinkled carrots which they eat right away. And just as they finished them, Filthy-Face shows up. He is a bully and a thief and has come to demand the items that people found in the garbage. In silence they give them to him.
While the siblings were hiding, Pablo sees something shiny among potato peels. He riches inside the garbage pile and pulls out a golden chain. For once, their dream has come true, they found a treasure. They sit behind a garbage bin dreaming of all things they could buy with the chain. Pablo wants a book, Sofia dreams of chicken for dinner and a bag of candies. Soon, they hear Filthy-Face coming. Sofia wants to hide the golden treasure in her boot, but her brother refuses to give it to her. The bully is now in front of them and he demands they empty their pockets and take off their shoes. He takes everything they have gathered.
Walking back home with her brother, Sofia is crying. When their mother asks what happened, Pablo, making that there’s no one around, opens his mouth and pulls out the golden chain. At last, they made it and he can have his wish.
Sofia, a girl about 8 to 10 years old, very determined; Pablo, her little brother, a shy kid; Filthy-Face, a grown-up man, the local bully; the children’s mother.
A gloom hangs over the pages of this book. Isabelle Malenfant, an award-winning illustrator living in Canada, created the graphics in dark colors and broken lines. There’s only a hint of color dotted along the pages, and not even the golden chain is bright and shiny. The graphics are filling the pages, with the text fitted in the white spots. Malenfant creates a world of garbage scouring that is frightening and sad.
Recommended Age: 5 to 8 years old
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Things to Learn
Shantytown – An area of the outskirts of a big city were people live in improvised dwelling made of carton, metal, cloth or plastic. The inhabitants of the shantytowns are very poor, with little or no food, oftentimes children being forced to work just like Sofia and Pablo.
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