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The Story Behind the Story of Stephanie Wildman's Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt: The Story Behind the Story

by Stephanie Wildman

Thank you, Lynne Marie, for having me on your blog to talk about my latest picture book Treasure Hunt, illustrated by Estefanía Razo from Lawley Publishing. Twins Flor and Roberto want to play video games and watch TV after school, but big brother Luis has a different idea. He suggests a treasure hunt. The twins scamper through the house hunting for treasures Luis has hidden, following his clues. Can you guess with them what they will make with the objects they find? Backmatter provides suggestions for creating at-home fun with puppets made out of empty toilet paper rolls.

The story that became Treasure Hunt started as a losing entry in a contest seeking “green” or environment-conscious stories. Yes, you read that right – it lost. Many of us in the kidlit world receive our share of rejections, so Treasure Hunt is an example of how rejection doesn’t mean that a story is done.

The original story featured a grandmother and a grandson. The grandmother had saved a huge cardboard box, that would have been discarded after an appliance delivery, to use as a puppet theater. The characters crafted puppets from toilet paper rolls and supply scraps. I have done this in real life. In fact, I have a cardboard box from a refrigerator in my basement right now. I’m also saving a bag of empty toilet paper rolls for the upcoming launch of the Spanish language version of Treasure Hunt -- Búsqueda del Tesoro (translated into Spanish by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave).

You may have gathered I do have grandsons, and when they come to visit, we “hunt for treasure.” I hide small gifts or everyday objects. Because of their age difference, I have the grandkids hunt as a team, as Luis does in the story, ensuring that the older one won’t automatically win every time. Each person finding the treasure stands in the center of the room when they have “found” it but without revealing the location of the hidden object. Only when all searchers meet in the middle can the hiding spot be disclosed by the one who found it first. The children especially delight in hunts where grandpa joins in and they find the treasure before he does.

In the final story version I edited out the grandmother. I already had a grandmother/grandchild story in my first book Brave in the Water, illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar, also available in Spanish by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave as Valiente en el Agua. You can find Lynne Marie’s blog about that book here. In my rewrite of Treasure Hunt, the grandmother exits in favor of the older brother, and the twins arrive to add humor to the family dynamic. The twins love to play jinx when they speak the same words at the same time.

I was fortunate to have retired Sen. Barbara Boxer write the back cover blurb, saying: “Protecting the environment has always been a priority for me so this wonderful story is very special. It shows how children can enjoy doing something to actually make a difference!”

Bio for Stephanie Wildman:

Stephanie Wildman, author of two children’s books, Treasure Hunt (2022) (illustrated by Estefanía Razo; translated into Spanish as Búsqueda del Tesoro by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave) and Brave in the Water (2021) (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar; translated into Spanish as Valiente en el Agua by Cecilia Pópulus-Eudave), both from Lawley Publishing, became a Professor Emerita after serving as the John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Chair at Santa Clara Law. She directed the school’s Center for Social Justice and Public Service. Her other books include Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America 2d (with contributions by Armstrong, Davis, & Grillo) (2021); Race and Races: Cases and Resources for a Diverse America 4th (with Delgado, Perea, Cuison-Villazor, James, & Stefancic) (2022); Social Justice: Professionals Communities and Law (with Mahoney & Calmore) (2013); and Women and the Law Stories (with Schneider) (2011). Lawley will publish her third picture book BREATH BY BREATH in 2024. Kar-Ben Publishing will release her fourth children’s book, Miri’s Moving Day (co-authored with Adam Chang) in 2024. Stephanie is a grandmother, mother, spouse, friend, good listener, and she can sit “criss-cross apple sauce” thanks to her yoga practice.

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Twitter: @SWildmanSF

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