The Treasure with a Face by Janeen Zaio
This was a fun, middle-grade story with a fantastic main character. From the very first page, I knew Eli was someone I would enjoy going on an adventure with, and that is exactly what I did. Living in the middle east during the time of Jesus’ ministry is not an easy time to be alive. Especially if you are a boy who longs to hunt for treasure, but is stuck living and working for his difficult uncle.
When Eli finally gets the chance for adventure, it is not at all what he expected. As he journeys to Jerusalem by order of his uncle, he hopes for a chance to meet Jesus. While the adventures he encounters along the way give him a taste of a life he longs for, he really hopes that Jesus will be able to give him the needed clue to find the treasure that the Jewish people have been searching for. But when he discovers that he’s too late and that Jesus has been killed, will all be lost, or will he discover that the greatest treasure is something that he never could have imagined?
Twelve-year-old Eli lives in ancient Israel and dreams of being a treasure hunter instead of his uncle’s metal-smithing apprentice. Uncle Shem is the kind of man who would tell Jesus that He walked on water the wrong way.
When Uncle Shem reluctantly sends the boy on a 120-mile journey to Jerusalem to deliver a fragile mirror, it seems like an impossible mission for a clumsy apprentice. Eli resolves not only to redeem himself in the eyes of his uncle but also to begin his life as a real treasure hunter. He aims to find nothing less than the Ark of the Covenant! Of course, flames reportedly shoot out the bottom of the Ark, and people who touch it tend to die, but that’s not going to deter Eli.
When a mysterious stranger, who seems to share a secret past with Uncle Shem, gives Eli a worn Roman artifact, the boy never imagines how much he’ll appreciate the object during the perilous journey ahead. Enemies await both along the way and within Jerusalem’s imposing walls.
And there’s another reason to visit the City of David in AD 33: Jesus. For who other than the all-knowing Son of God might know where to find the ultimate treasure?