The rewards of reading are often intangible, but A Treasure’s Trove by Michael Stadther can lead readers to some very real gifts.
The expressive 116-page fairy tale, geared to both children and parents, tells the story of a group of forest creatures who enlist a woodcarver and his magical family to help search for their recently crystallized fellow critters.
As the book’s characters investigate the disappearance of their mates, the reader sifts through clues as well—clues leading to jeweled versions of Stadther’s 12 creatures. These include a diamond-legged ant, a ruby-winged ladybug, and a black pearl bee. The fairy tale cleverly conceals the locations of 12
18k gold tokens (each valued at $1,200) that are hidden around the continental United States and redeemable for specific creatures. The tokens are not buried or hidden in dangerous or private spots. “All you need [to find them] is skill, imagination, and determination,” publicity for the book assures.
The premise for a literary treasure hunt came to the author 25 years ago. “I was just a million dollars short,” he tells JCK. As the CEO of a software company, Stadther made the money to publish the book and create the treasures.
Stadther worked with designer Robert Underhill, of Jewelry Designs in Danbury, Conn., to create the precious creatures. Underhill says that he, Stadther, and their team took a year to fashion the delicate, complicated pieces, which include stones from Stadther’s personal collection and others from Jewelry Designs’.
Underhill is excited and proud when asked to describe his favorite pieces: “I have three. Aesthetically, it’s the dragonfly [composed of 198 colorless diamonds]. Mechanically, it’s the beetle [with a movable tanzanite and diamond body]. Materially, it’s the spider [made with a 6.36-ct. Kashmir blue sapphire and valued at $450,000].” When pressed, Stadther says his favorite is the grasshopper, “the first piece I ever collected.”
The component stones include diamonds of various sizes and colors, amethyst, garnet, tanzanite, and alexandrite. Don Palmieri, president of the Gemological Appraisal Association, assessed all of the stones in the collection, ensuring the uniqueness and exceptional quality of each piece.
The creatures (none of which had been claimed at press time) traveled around the country in March. Stadther is also on tour, reading and signing his book, currently ranked No. 15 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. He receives a lot of fan mail and loves those that thank him for providing shared experiences for children and parents. And as for the jewels? Stadther is predictably elusive about the details of the hiding spots. “My wife hid the tokens with me” is all he will reveal.
The hunt began Nov. 15, 2004, and ends Dec. 31, 2007, when the author will retrieve any unfound treasures. Further information and a recently posted clue can be found on www.atreasurestrove.com.