Week 3/21 – Week ending 15 January

Editions De La Chouette d’Or has announced the publication of ‘a beautifully illustrated armchair treasure hunt book, The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale,’ published in hardback at £24.90 on 8 April 2021, the anniversary of the signing of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France.

A French edition will be published simultaneously by Editions De La Chouette d’Or, a new publisher specializing in books on the theme of treasure hunting. The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale book was devised and illustrated by Michel Becker, co-creator and illustrator of the influential On the Trail of the Golden Owl treasure hunt book, which launched in 1993 and is still officially unsolved.

According to a statement on behalf of the publishers: ‘The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale is a treasure hunt book for the whole family. It is also a history and celebration of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France. When Edward VII and French Prime Minister Émile Loubet signed the Entente Cordiale on 8 April 1904, the agreement was sealed with a golden casket.

‘Given to France by the UK, the casket was made by the prestigious Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company, jewellers by appointment to the crown. Inside the casket was a roll of parchment inscribed with a text celebrating Anglo-French friendship and, on the lid, a golden sculpture, the allegorical figure of Peace crowning France and Britain with laurels.

‘The winner of the treasure hunt will be awarded the golden casket which experts have valued at more than £680,000. The golden casket is currently locked away in a crystal cabinet. Only by tracking down the location of two hidden geode crystals, can the crystal cabinet be unlocked, and the golden casket claimed.’

Michel Becker said: “Now is the time for the casket to emerge from the shadows and deliver its message of peace and hope across political borders. It is time for the casket to become immortal. That is the aim of this book and the story it tells.”

The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale contains nine puzzles created by Vincenzo Bianca. Each puzzle is made up of an illustration by Michel Becker and secret text hidden in the accompanying story, The Tale of the Edrei, written by Pauline Deysson. Each puzzle is written as a poem with some parts of the text missing; to find the missing text, the player needs to crack the hidden code in the accompanying illustration.

‘Once they have successfully solved all nine puzzles, they will have to use the Treasure Map and the Adventurer’s Notebook (available from the website of the treasure hunt when it is launched) to find the exact spot where the geode crystals are located,’ the publishers explain.

‘Each geode is hidden in a chest along with documentation clearly stating that it is one of the geodes of Entente Cordiale treasure hunt. One piece of geode is hidden in the UK and the other in France. The two pieces of geode need to be united to open the crystal cabinet containing the golden casket. You could say it requires a new Entente Cordiale!’

Bestselling British author and historian Stephen Clarke has also written ‘an irreverent and informative’ history of the Entente Cordiale for the book, revealing how it came about and how it reshaped Europe.

Editions De La Chouette d’Or will be launching a website to tie into The Golden Treasure of the Entente Cordiale, which will host a forum for treasure hunters to post questions to the authors, as well as talk to each other and compare notes.

More details were released by organisers about team behind the book:-

‘Michel Becker is a painter and sculptor. Most famously, he illustrated the legendary treasure hunt book On the Trail of the Golden Owl, for which he also sculpted the still-unclaimed prize of statuette of an owl using 10 kilos of gold, silver and diamonds.

‘Vincenzo Bianca is CEO of N-Zone, a Belgian company specializing on leisure and learning gamification through which he pursues his research in the field of interactive learning. Enigma designer, creative and inventor of all kinds of games, Vincenzo has been passionate about treasure hunts since he was eight years old and is a walking encyclopaedia on the subject.

‘Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually et al) which have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a million copies worldwide. He has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

‘Pauline Deysson is the author of The Library series of books. She is a digital librarian in a bank and is fluent in French, English, Spanish and German.’