Book Review: 44 Tiny Secrets
44 Tiny Secrets
Written by Sylvia Bishop
Illustrated by Ashley King
Published by Little Tiger
Publication date: 23rd July 2020
Summary (from Little Tiger Press):
The first book in a heartwarming and timeless new series with a brave and spirited heroine, from the acclaimed duo behind THE BOOKSHOP GIRL.
Betsy Bow-Linnet is determined to become a world famous concert pianist like her parents. There’s just one problem: no matter how hard she practises she doesn’t share their musical talents. So when a mysterious letter arrives from a woman claiming to know of an unusual Method that will make Betsy’s playing ‘stupendous’, Betsy jumps at the chance. There’s just one condition: she must keep the Method a secret.
But it isn’t just one secret – it’s forty-four tiny secrets in the shape of a boxful of pygmy mice! Betsy is mystified – how are they going to help her play the piano and – more importantly – how on earth can she keep them all a secret?
Gorgeously illustrated in two-colour, this is a warm, funny and pitch-perfect story about the true nature of family love and finding your real talents in the most unexpected of places. Perfect for fans of ISADORA MOON, AMELIA FANG, OTTOLINE and HARPER.
First impressions: When I saw this mentioned in the ‘Upcoming releases’ list by Little Tiger, I was really excited!
Sylvia Bishop has written some fantastic books (my favourite is The Bookshop Girl). I have also enjoyed Ashley King’s illustrations, both in his previous collaborations with Sylvia Bishop and with the Witch for a Week series by Kaye Umansky, another of my favourites.
I went into reading this knowing very little about it apart from the fact that I have loved all of Sylvia Bishop’s previous books so was pretty sure that I would like this one. I am so glad that I read this, as I cannot wait to share it with my class, school library adn anyone else I can persuade to read it!
The main character, Betsy Bow-Linnet captured my heart right from the very first sentence:
“Betsy Bow-Linnet really wanted to kick something, just to make herself feel better.”
Who hasn’t felt that way sometimes? Betsy is trying to impress her parents by learning to play the piano – as they are both famous concert pianists, she feels as if she has disappointed them by not showing any particular talent in that area. While they are away on tour, her grandfather (another pianist!) agrees to tutor her so she can wow them when they get home. Yet, things don’t quite go to plan…
I absolutely adored the grandfather and his relationship with Betsy – it just gave me all the feels. Betsy’s parents are loving but relatably imperfect and the revelation of the secret was something that I could not have predicted.
This book is absolutely pitch perfect. I love the characters and their relationships, the adorable ‘secrets’ and the irreverent, yet heartfelt writing style. I was so disappointed to turn the final page of this book…until I spotted that there will be yet more adventures from Betsy – sign me up!
What I liked: The writing style – it is a little tongue-in-cheek at times, but gently humorous and very heartfelt. I loved the relationship between Betsy and her grandfather and the originality of the story. The illustrations were the perfect accompaniment to the text, really enhancing my enjoyment of the story.
Even better if: I’m really happy that this is the beginning of a series! While it read perfectly as a stand-alone, I love the characters and cannot wait ti see more from Betsy and her 44 little secrets.
How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a great read-aloud for Year 2 +, or a recommendation as an independent reader for children aged 7+, particularly if they have enjoyed previous books by this author. The layout and colour make this an appealing read, yet the book looks quite thick and grown-up so this would make a lovely bridging book for readers making the leap from shorter to longer chapter books.
Thanks for reading!