CLARENCE'S BIG SECRET by Roy MacGregor

CLARENCE'S BIG SECRET

Age Range: 5 - 8
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Imagine learning to read when you’re nearly 100!

Meet Clarence Brazier. Mortified on his first day of school when he couldn’t spell his name (he hadn’t learned the alphabet) and was mocked by other pupils, Clarence ran home and never returned. Shortly afterward, Clarence’s father was blinded in an accident, and the boy took over the family farm. Before Clarence married, he confided his illiteracy to his fiancee, making her promise to tell no one. When his wife died, Clarence was 93, alone, and lost; how would he manage? He taught himself to read, devising homemade primers from mail and packaging. Eventually, he told his daughter, a retired teacher, and she tutored him. Clarence died in 2012, aged 105. This is a well-written ode to motivation, perseverance, and the idea that it’s never too late, but readers may wonder why no one taught Clarence to read outside of school or why his wife did not teach him—these points are not raised in the story. Nevertheless, youngsters who are readers should feel empowered, and those who are not—yet—will take hope. The soft shades of the charming, textured, expressive illustrations aptly convey an old-time–y feel. Clarence is white; a final scene depicts him reading to diverse schoolkids. An informative author’s note includes a photograph of Clarence and sobering data about worldwide illiteracy.

Commendably inspires respect for an older person but leaves some questions unanswered. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-77147-331-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenTHE OLDEST STUDENT by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
ChildrenREAD FOR ME, MAMA by Vashanti Rahaman
by Vashanti Rahaman
ChildrenBORN TO READ by Judy Sierra
by Judy Sierra