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  • It's a Secret!
  • Karen Coats
Burningham, John . It's a Secret!; written and illus. by John Burningham. Candlewick, 200942p. ISBN 978-0-7636-4275-4$16.99 R 4-7 yrs

For every kid who's ever wondered why cats are so very sleepy during the day, John Burningham offers this proposition: they are off to the rooftops at night, attending fancy-dress parties where they dance and rub shoulders with royalty. When Marie Elaine catches her own cat, Malcolm, looking very dapper in his red jacket and ostentatiously beplumed green fedora, sneaking out one night, she begs to go with him. He agrees, on condition that she get dressed, get small, and promise not to tell. Their path is not without its perils: on the way, they meet a boy who can't sleep and threatens to tell if they don't take him along, and three thuggish-looking dogs, two in hoodies and one in a sinister-looking knit cap, who menace the feline travelers. Taking a cattishly acrobatic alternative route, they arrive at the party to dance the night away and receive their own boons from the Queen of the Cats. The appeal of this book rests in its pleasing gestalt of elements: a story of pure fantasy; crisp, [End Page 8] melodious narration and dialogue; thick, creamy, oversized pages; rough, almost primitive figures with muted, fuzzy gray linework and scribbly textures; and finally, the cats, sharply dressed yet still maintaining a homey, homely softness of form and expression. Young patrons will agree that this is a secret well worth sharing.



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pp. 8-9
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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