Quill and Quire

Canada's magazine of book news and reviews

A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It

by Kathy Stinson; Deirdre Betteridge, illus.

A Pocket Can Have a Treasure in It asks, in the open-to-anything tone of very young children, questions such as whether a bowl can have a berry in it (yes) and whether a tree can have a cow in it (no). The action takes place around the farm one day as a little girl explores rural domestic sights, all rendered in gentle pastel watercolours with roughed-in ink outlines.

The story’s lovely conceit works perfectly, and young listeners will enjoy answering the questions before the adult reader gets a chance. Although a call-and-response rhythm is established, it is broken frequently enough to lend welcome variety to the story. Not every observation prompts a question, while some items prompt two questions (“Can a sock have a head in it? No! But a sock can have … a toe in it”) that have differing answers, and some queries are rhetorical. Some questions are simple, some more complex, and some are broken by interjections (“Can a pond have a splash in it? Oh, yes! Oh, no!”).

And finally, the little girl’s day ends in bed, where her mother reads her a story featuring a barn with a horse in it that’s much like the one portrayed at the beginning of the book. With the child’s observation that a barn can have a horse in it, the story circles back to its beginning, giving the book the ideal balance of structure and spontaneity.

With its straightforward language and apparently simple ideas well-suited to preschoolers, the story has enough depth to bring readers back again and again. This one has the feel of a classic.