Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Picture Books That Changed The World

Number 1:  MASQUERADE by Kit Williams
Well, as you know, I’m a youngish chap (and good looking too, of course). I haven’t been around for too long. Infact, I’ll let you into a secret. Some of those books on my shelves are older than I am. Much older.

 But books are like that. The best ones last forever.

It’s always good to look at the new, but it’s important to get to know the old, I say. 

SO I thought I might start thrilling you with the titles of some of the very best of picture books from the past. A few timeless classics. The ones that you should make sure you see before you look at anything else. And its usually a good idea to head down to the library if you want to pick up something that’s out of print and not to be found in your local bookstore!

Just so as you can picture me, I’m seated in my favourite wing backed reading chair and perched on my satin cushion (always necessary when a classic read is about to commence)!

Masquerade was published in September of the year 1979 and took the book world by storm, selling over two million copies worldwide and making Kit Williams, it’s creator, into an overnight celebrity.

And I make no wonder. Lordy, can you imagine a book that holds the clue to REAL treasure. Study the pages carefully, work out the riddles and puzzles and discover the location to a where a golden prize is buried! That would be a bit like being a pirate without even getting up from your seat. Wowza!

That’s exactly what MASQUERADE was. The very first of its kind. And one that sparked a whole host of what became known as ‘armchair treasure hunts.’

In the book, Kit Williams used fifteen detailed paintings to tell the story of the Moon falling in love with the Sun, and how he calls on the help of the main character, Jack Hare, to deliver a fabulous jewel to his true love as a token of his affection… Switt Swoo! I do love a touch of romance.

On arriving at the sun Jack discovers he has lost the treasure, and it is left to the reader to track back through the journey within the pages and find it. All the reader knew for sure was that the Golden Hare was buried SOMEWHERE in the British Isles. Maps and compasses at the ready folks.

Now believe me, I’ve seen that Hare and he is VERY good looking…SWOON, even from a Pooch’s point of view!

The images and their painted borders hold the key clues with which to solve the puzzle, alongside some visual jokes and a few intentional decoys. Within the text are some rather amusing riddles to solve and the story itself is a fun, short, read, filled from beginning to end with weird and wonderful characters and a cheerful dialogue.

And listen to this, the hunt lasted for two years before the golden hare was unearthed below a stone cross in Ampthill, Bedfordshire in 1982. The original finder of the treasure must have been some kind of pirate if you ask me because apparently he cheated by getting information from an old girlfriend of Kit Williams. But at about the same time the puzzle was solved as intended by two teachers from Manchester!

Now just you take a look at that golden hare…Woooooo, fantastic eh?

 AND I can tell you that it was made by Kit Williams himself. What a thoroughly talented chappie indeed! What would you give for a piece of jewellery like that I wonder?

Unfortunately it’s not for sale and is now owned by a private collector but you can still get hold of a copy of the book and I’d truly recommend you do just that.

The book was republished with the full solution in 1983

If you’re really interested, a whole page-by-page solution to all the clues can be found on Dan Amrich's unofficial Kit William site at

1 comment:

  1. I still have my copy of the book. I bought it because the illustrations were amazing... I could only dream of finding the hare.


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