Children's Fiction




Tingay, Frederick John Francis (1958). The Message from the Tomb. London: Oxford University Press.

The series includes retellings of David Copperfield, Robinson Crusoe, The War of the Worlds and others, and new stories like this one. They appear to be written for teenagers, or possibly as part of an early EFL project since some quite obvious words and phrases, like ‘sapphire’, are given explanatory footnotes.

The Message from theTomb is the story of a bright boy, Chan Tsai, who is friends with archaeology professors at the  University of Hong Kong. They discover various objects in a tomb unearthed during development work (to house refugees) at Li Cheng Uk, a village in Kowloon.  . In particular, there seems to be a message written on a piece of bamboo, which Chan Tsai believes to be written by his ancestor, the poet Chan, who looked after the villagers’ treasures of villagers. Chan Tsai thinks that the message indicates where the buried treasure can be found. A villain called The Man is also searching for the treasure and tries to get hold of a copy of the message, and even kidnaps Chan Tsai in his attempt to find out the message.

Despite being drugged and beaten, Chan Tsai keeps his secret and eventually is saved. Having thwarted the villain and his henchmen, Chan Tsai and the professors finally interpret the message and investigate the site. They find another piece of bamboo on which Chan the poet has written that his treasure has been the friendship and trust of the villagers and that he has kept his promise – here is the treasure entrusted to him by those friends. And with this new message they find all sorts of jewellery, jade, gold, etc. including a gold ring with a black stone carved with Chan’s name. (KB)

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