The Way to Treasure Island by Lizzy Stewart

“This is Matilda, and this is Matilda’s dad,” begins this fun book by Lizzy Stewart. Matilda and her dad set out to look for treasure one day. It’s an adventure, for sure. Matilda gets frustrated by her dad’s fun-loving but disorganized approach to the treasure hunt…even though he points out lots of exciting things along the way.

The story shows that feeling frustrated doesn’t have to mean you don’t have fun with the person who makes you frustrated. It introduces lots of feelings and makes the point that there are advantages in being different.

Here are three ways to use this fun book in your classroom.


The book tells us that Matilda and her dad are “total opposites! Fast and slow, tidy and messy, quiet and very, very noisy.”

Read the book aloud to your class and ask them to notice and list the pairs of opposite traits. The first few are done for the class by the book. But as the story continues, students can think about pairs of adjectives that will best summarize the words and pictures they see. Maybe Matilda is organized, while her dad is impulsive. This is a great way to work on vocabulary and descriptions.

Use a two-column pocket chart to create a list for the classroom.

Oral history

This is a family story about a father and daughter who “don’t always see eye to eye, but they always have fun together.” Challenge students to use that phrase to write their own family story.

This story does not include a mother orally other family members; it seems as though Matilda and her dad might be the only members in the household. It could therefore be a good writing prompt to encourage students to think about, and write about, their own families.

Ask students to talk with their families about family stories. Have them record and/or transcribe the stories their family members come up with and create their own illustrated story books.

Treasure maps

The title of the book probably comes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. This is probably also the most famous example of a pirate treasure map where X marks the spot. Read an essay on whether or not pirates really made treasure maps with Xs. Or decorate your classroom with a convincing pirate treasure map.

The treasure that Matilda and her dad find, however, is something quite different from a pirate treasure.

Just what is the treasure? Where did Matilda get the map? These are questions that are not answered directly in the book, but they could lead to interesting discussions.

Decide, in small groups, on a treasure that exists at your school. Create maps showing the treasure marked with an X. Have the groups swap maps and try to find each other’s treasures.


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