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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Sam’s sea otter family has a very special treasure. It’s a stone. Not just any stone, but one that is perfectly smooth and curved in just the right spots. It’s been handed down for generations because it’s the ideal stone to serve clams, mussels and so much more. It’s the sea otter family’s cherished cooking tool. Sam’s mom always carries it in a safe place. Until one day, she allows Sam to carry the treasured stone. When he accidentally loses it, he’s crushed. Should he tell his mother the truth? Or make up a story to cover his loss? Sam’s afraid he’s going to be in so much trouble. Imagine the surprise when he discovers that even though the stone is a treasure, it is replaceable, whereas the love and trust within a family are not replaceable.
Stefanie Fields' colorful picture book story, The Greatest Treasure, is in itself a real treasure. In this story, the author tackles some difficult concepts like being honest and learning what is more important: a thing or family. This is a clever story about family bonding, something families don’t address much these days. It’s important to instill in young people the value of love, of family, and how much more important love and family are than material things. For young readers, using a family of charming sea otters is a delightful way to tell a story, but also get the message across. The illustrations are lovely and help develop the plot. The young reader will not only learn to appreciate what is really important, but they will also learn something about sea otters. Well done!