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THE LITTLE SECRET by Kate Saunders


by Kate Saunders and illustrated by William Carman

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-36961-3
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

This thickly plotted fantasy knits together familiar strands—a parallel world, adventure in a calamitous kingdom and an evil queen’s machinations. Jane, a lonely girl in a family of rambunctious brothers, befriends Staffa, a strange new classmate who’s only passing through. Staffa’s both prim and bold yet seems stifled by her overbearing mother, “Lady” Matilda. Jane’s intrigued by the mysterious, ornately painted box that Staffa and Matilda treat with infinite care. When Jane’s parents approve her school’s-end holiday to Staffa’s home, the narrative burgeons to include the transmogrification of Jane and her hosts, a magically diminutive kingdom where farmed bees loom big as cattle and slug meat is a staple and the unfolding of Queen Matilda’s sinister plans for Jane. Rebels led by her own son battle to overthrow the queen, and Jane both abets the campaign and subsequently right-sizes, regaining home. Certain elements—like the correspondence between the box and the kingdom of Eckwald—are rather confusingly explained, but the spry mix of action, friendship and good-besting-evil has undeniable appeal. (Fantasy. 8-11)