Darius Bell and the glitter pool by Odo Hirsch
Allen and Unwin,
2009. ISBN 978174175716 3
(Ages 9+) The Bell family has lived at Bell House for 5 generations and each generation pays for their establishment with a gift to the town. This time, however, the family has no money to buy an important gift. Their funds have been eaten away.The house has a gardener who plants fruit and vegetable where lawns once were, a builder who conducts his business from his house over the garage, doing odd jobs around the house in return and a cook, married to the gardener, supplying local shops with her baking. Darius has known no other life, and so it is all normal to him, but he feels the expectation of a gift tremendously.
After an earthquake shatters the little house in the woods where Darius and his friends play, he finds a cave, full of fabulous glittering stones. Excited that he may have found the answer to his father's problem, he investigates further, only to be dismayed that the stones are worthless. But he finds that the cave has value in its beauty and sets about trying to make it a place to visit, a gift to the town.
A thrilling story of Darius' family's dilemma, it twists and turns as Darius tries to find a solution. Upper primary readers will love the chapter when Darius' father, offering a wheelbarrow of home grown vegetables to the council as the gift, is humiliated by the self serving mayor, but in talking about manners and humility, trumps the man soundly. A story of words and their use, nowhere is this more evident than in the lawyer's office, where the words of the will are studied. Hirsch makes us believe that all that glitters is not gold.