SECRET HEART by David Almond

secret heart

This has been called David Almond’s most confusing book. While I loved Kit’s Wilderness and Clay, this one left me unsatisfied.

Joe Maloney is a different sort of kid. He doesn’t fit in. He’s a dreamer who can’t concentrate in school and doesn’t make friends easily. Joe’s mother recognizes some of his uniqueness and his sensitive ways but as a single parent, is largely unable to guide her son. When an all but defunct circus comes to town, Joe is called into the night by a mysterious tiger. Eventually he befriends many of the circus performers and gets caught up in the dream-like tale of the circus closing down. Questions of man’s relationship to nature, reincarnation, and the line between reality and illusion abound.

There is some beautiful imagery and prose here. Almond’s book is a challenging read for the middle grade or young adult audience. And just like in life, there is no easy, nicely-tied up ending. This is a good book to pick up when you think books for children are all alike. It may also shake a few adults out of their stupor.

Wisdom from Children’s Authors

From the distant past and the present, here is some of the wisdom shared by authors who write for children.

reading kids

“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your mind is very limited. Use your intuition.”   Madeleine L’Engle

“Maybe we’re all in somebody’s dream. Maybe everything’s a dream, and nothing else.”  David Almond

“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”   Hans Christian Andersen

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”   JK Rowling

“A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds.”   JRR Tolkien

“Never give up. No one knows what’s going to happen next.” L. Frank Baum

“I believe stories are incredibly important, possibly in ways we don’t understand, in allowing us to make sense of our lives, in giving us empathy and in creating the world that we live in.”     Neil Gaiman

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”   Lewis Carroll

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”   Dr. Seuss

“Kids deserve the right to think they can change the world.”   Lois Lowry