Mary’s Treasure Box – C.E. Walz

Mary's Treasure Box by C.E. Walz, Bruno Merz
Published by B&H Publishing on October 1, 2015
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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Every mother has special memories, but Mary’s memories are like no other. 
Doesn’t every mother have a box filled with treasured mementos and trinkets? If sweet memories aren't hidden in a closet or an attic, perhaps they are tucked away in a corner of her heart.  But Mary’s treasure box is unlike any other. She has filled it with bits of straw from a manger, a little gold from the Magi, and other dear reminders of one silent night in a Bethlehem stable. Now, decades later, Mary opens her treasure box once again and shares her most cherished memories with her granddaughter, Hannah. Join them as they revisit the simple splendor of the Nativity story.

There’s this very special part of Luke 2, right after the story of Jesus’ birth, that the erudite historian writes that Mary “treasured up all of these things in her heart.” I picture Dr. Luke sitting down with this old woman, a woman whose life is unique in so many ways and penning her account. C.E. Walz and Bruno Merz adjust that imagery a bit, giving Mary a physical treasure box and a darling young grandchild to tell the story to.

Mary’s Treasure Box is a beautifully told story. Though written for children, I hesitate to call it a children’s book. It’s short and illustrated and the main character is a child, yes, but Merz doesn’t write to children. His language and vocabulary reflects something some akin to a fable—a children’s tale for adults, if you will.

Not that children won’t enjoy this. Not at all—they certainly will! But word choice is important in children’s books. I look for words that kids will understand or not understand. I look for sentence structure that is age appropriate. Mary’s Treasure Box will not be a simple read for younger readers. For instance, the first line is: “The sunset skies over Nazareth painted a pastel picture on the horizon.” Again, I don’t consider that a flaw in the book. The language and tone fits the book perfectly, but parents expecting a book their child can read easily may be disappointed .

The book ends with a Parent Connection, a signature closing to many B&H Kids books. It gives readers a verse to remember (Luke 2:19), a Scripture passage to read (1 John 4:9), some discussion questions, and a special activity (make your own treasure box). The discussion questions really bring a depth to the story as it focuses on Mary’s role as a mother—not in any theological sense of the term, but to simply get kids (and adults!) thinking about what it must have been like for Mary to be the mother of Jesus and raise him from a baby to a man, and what it must have been like to be at the end of her life and have all these memories stored up.

Mary’s Treasure Box is destined to be a classic Christmas read –at least in my household.