Treasure Hunting

By the Book

* We're going on a treasure hunt. And the prize is real gold.

But before starting, you'll have to read a new book, released this week, that features animals in jeopardy, a dying forest, a woodworker, his half-elf wife and their winged dog.

The book, "A Treasure's Trove," was written and illustrated by Michael Stadther. It holds clues to the location of 12 gold coins hidden throughout the continental United States. If you find one of the coins, you can trade it for a beautiful piece of jewelry made to look like one of the characters in the book.

"I always wanted to create a treasure hunt that would be terrific fun for families," Stadther said. He says anyone who reads the book can figure out where the treasures are. "They are not located in caves . . . underwater [or] on mountaintops. . . . They are hidden in places accessible to everyone."

Even if you don't find one of the coins, the book tells a thrilling (sometimes scary) story of an evil force out to destroy the animals in the forest, and the animals' brave fight to save the ones they love. The characters -- a poor, s-l-o-w snail, a spider whose solution to every problem is to devour it, a fraidy-cat dog named Pook -- leap off the pages and into the reader's heart.

If you do find one of the coins, you're rich! The 12 pieces of jewelry combined are worth more than $1 million.

"A Treasure's Trove" leads readers to gold coins that can be traded for jewelry.