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Secret Place
     

Secret Place

by Eve Bunting, Ted Rand (Illustrator)
 

A small boy finds a secret place in the city that he shares with a white egret, mallards, and even ducklings.

Overview


A small boy finds a secret place in the city that he shares with a white egret, mallards, and even ducklings.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Luminous watercolors juxtapose the concrete and smoke of warehouses and wharves in an evocative and deeply satisfying work." Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Narrated by a city boy living amid crowded concrete and clamorous machines, this visit to a "secret place" quietly confides the treasure of a tiny bit of wilderness. In Bunting's (Someday a Tree; Smoky Night) muscular prose and in Rand's (The Owl Who Became the Moon) dusky illustrations, a vulnerable, bright hope emerges. Where a hidden river runs through a cement canyon, the boy and his small band of adult friends find patches of green and evidence that nature has persevered: sparrows, of course, but also green-winged teals, buffleheads, mallards, a white egret and ducklings. Nighttime brings other marvels: a coyote, a mother possum with babies clinging to her back. The boy's response is an authentic, uncontainable enthusiasm"I want to tell everyone what's here." But his friend's warning that "some people might want to take the secret place and change it" is too discomforting a threat. While the youngster shares the wonder of his secret place intimately and abundantly, he entrusts its precise identity not even to the reader. Revealing and concealing at the same time, this book visits upon the reader the awe and mystery of an almost sacred initiation. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
In the hustle and bustle of the large city, a boy finds a quiet nesting place for ducks. This oasis can be found in the concrete basin originally constructed for run-off water. Bunting masterfully weaves words together to form a safety net for this wildlife in a precarious setting. Rand's watercolor renderings of both animals and humans are life-like and accompany the text.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3The cover illustration reveals to readers what the young narrator has discovereda duck and her ducklings hidden amid the concrete and grime of the city. He shares his precious find with just a few appreciative adults and, in the process, introduces readers to a variety of wildlife. As his enthusiasm for this special spot grows, he wants to tell everyone about it but wise counseling from an adult cautions him to "be careful" because "some people might want to take the secret place and change it." Instead, readers are left with a bit of a hint as to its locationjust enough to send them off to explore their own cities and towns. Double-page watercolor illustrations offer varying perspectives, and nature and the urban environment alternate as the dominant element. A dark palette contributes a sense of mystery and solemnity. Nighttime scenes acquire a magical quality when characters are outlined in a golden glow. The spare but lyrical text is boxed in the blues and greens of water and sky with the city's soot often, but not always, intruding. The illustrations are large enough to share with a group, and the text has a natural pacing well suited to reading aloud. Children will be delighted by the opportunity to be included in this secret, and will also share a profound respect for nature and a sense of joy in the triumph of a small piece of wilderness over urban decay and pollution. Like the secret place, this is a story that is gentle yet powerful.Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Bunting (Train to Somewhere, p. 65, etc.) writes about a small boy who discovers a secret place—a small patch of wildlife—at night in the river that runs through a cacophonous, polluted urban center—"Close by is a freeway where cars and trucks boom, and a railroad track with freight trains that shunt and grunt." He shares this discovery with his father who runs a forklift at night and "is good with secrets," a young married couple, and others who teach him the names of the birds. The snowy egret feeds, green-winged teals and buffleheads skim the water, a mallard duck raises ducklings, and a coyote and possum with babies come to drink. The boy wants to tell even more people about the secret place, but decides to be careful in the name of protecting it. The brief poetic text captures the surprising beauty of nature in the city, where "The phone wires rocked the moon/in their cradle of lines./The stars rested bright on the telephone poles." Luminous watercolors juxtapose the concrete and smoke of warehouses and wharves in an evocative and deeply satisfying work.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395643679
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
08/28/1996
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Lexile:
AD590L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Luminous watercolors juxtapose the concrete and smoke of warehouses and wharves in an evocative and deeply satisfying work." Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

The late TED RAND was the esteemed illustrator of many picture books, including Eve Bunting's Secret Place and The Memory String.

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