44 Tiny Secrets

44 Tiny Secrets

44 Tiny Secrets
Sylvia Bishop, illus Ashley King

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788952040

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.

Librarian's Book choice

44 Tiny Secrets is a treasure of a story involving talented musicians, some unpleasant adults, a secret, and lots of very small mice.

Betsy Bow-Linnet has the misfortune of being born to parents who are renowned pianists; she doesn't seem to have inherited their talents at all. Fearing that she is a disappointment to them - and especially to her mother - Betsy leaps at an opportunity that promises to help her solve the problem, but she is also told that she must keep the solution a secret.

Much to Betsy's surprise, the 'solution' turns out to be 44 tiny, talented mice. While keeping 44 mice a secret is hard, it is much harder is to live with the secrets which grow and grow, and this is what lies at the heart of the story; a family secret and a truth that needs to be told.

While all the characters are well developed - I loved the odious Vera Brick - the warm relationship between Betsy and her grandfather is one of the highlights of the story.

With its relatively short chapters and gorgeous pages and illustrations by Ashley King, 44 Tiny Secrets is a warm and engaging story to share with young children aged 6+, especially if you want to explore how secrets have a habit of growing and growing.

I loved this story. Within its bejeweled pages you'll find humour, warmth and a strong message about being brave enough to do the right thing. Highly recommended.

192 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Elen Green


44 Tiny Secrets3/5

44 Tiny Secrets

Sylvia Bishop, illus Ashley King


Betsy Bow-Linnet is the daughter of famous concert pianists Bella and Bertrum Bow-Linnet. Her grandfather, too, is a concert pianist, however Betsy is not. No matter how hard she tries she just can't get the hang of it. After hearing her mother call her 'a disappointment', Betsy is determined to show her parents what she can do on the piano and prove she can play well, like them.

Her grandfather helps her and within a few days she is determined to play at her parents dinner party, a party in which all the guests are musicians! She plays her piece well and receives some interesting comments from the guests, but when a reporter writes about her performance in a gossip column, Betsy realises she didn't play with love and enthusiasm, like a musician, she just played the correct notes.

It is not until a mysterious letter comes through the letter box to Betsy from a Gloria Sprightly, do things start to change for her! From this letter on, things really start to take a turn and the 44 Tiny Secrets are revealed - but who is Gloria Sprightly? And how will she change Betsy's life?

I found that the story took a while to get in to and things didn't really start happening till half way through. However, the story then twists and turns and really grabbed my interest and will do with children, when the story unfolds and the identity of Gloria Sprightly is revealed.

The story has a lot of themes running throughout it and touches upon family and telling the truth. This would be a great story for a confident reader who is just getting into chapter books for the first time. The illustrations are lovely and really bring the story alive - especially the 44 secrets!

192 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Reviewed by: Lauren Maidman