Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Treasures of Weatherby

The Treasures of Weatherby

Zilpha Keatley Snyder
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416913993

Harleigh J. Weatherby the Fourth is not a happy boy. Though he is twelve years old he is the height of a six year old. You can imagine what it was like for Harleigh when he went to public school in Riverbend. He was bullied and teased within an inch of his life until he begged his Aunt Adelaide to let him be homeschooled. So now Harleigh stays at Weatherby House, an enormous rambling mansion that is falling apart in many places, dreaming of the day when he will show the rest of his family what he is capable of.

Then one day, when he is out walking in the neglected grounds of the mansion, Harleigh meets a very strange girl who apparently "flew" over the high fence which encloses the grounds. She says her name is Allegra, and though Harleigh is unable to find out much about her, Allegra is able to find out a fair bit about Harleigh and his life. She finds out that Aunt Adelaide has a set of rules, which she insists on imposing on everyone who lives in Weatherby House, rules that make most of the residents quite miserable. She learns too that none of the residents of the mansion really connect with one another, and that Harleigh doesn't really know anything about the people he lives with.

All Harleigh knows about Allegra is that she is unlike anyone he has ever met before, and that she has a fascination for stories and for old houses. More than anything she wants to visit Weatherby House. Harleigh insists that this is quite out of the question that she cannot visit because Aunt Adelaide will never allow it, but Allegra does not let some silly rule stop her. She manages to get in the house anyway.

It turns out to be a very good thing that she does visit the house, for Allegra's sharp ears tell her that someone is using a metal detector in Aunt Adelaide's room. Someone is looking for the Weatherby Treasure and since they are doing it on the sly, they don't mean to share what they find with anyone else.

In this splendid book readers will discover that treasure can come in many forms. It is true that there is the kind that we all dream about, the kind that buys houses, fancy cars, and wonderful vacations. But there is also the kind that is priceless: friendship and family, stories and connectedness. With great skillm Zilpha Keatley Snyder weaves together a story that is thoroughly entertaining and captivating. As the story unfolds, one cannot help wondering who Allegra is and how it is that she seems to know so much. Is there something magical about her perhaps?