Reviews for Little Secret
Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2
"When Jane befriends Tessa, the new girl at school, she begins an adventure that leads her far beyond the world she knows. Strange but likable Tessa and her mother, the mysterious and increasingly demonic Lady Matilda, take Jane to visit their home on an inaccessible island north of Scotland. Magically entering that realm, Jane finds herself in "another dimension," where Matilda rules as a wicked queen, but revolution is brewing among her subjects. The first half of the book, which includes the journey, is particularly strong in its evocation of the girls' friendship and of Jane's slowly mounting sense of a mystery surrounding Tessa and her mother. The latter half will intrigue many readers with well-imagined details of a strange land and the rather childlike adventures that take place there. Fine black-and-white illustrations at the chapter heads add to the book's charm." Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Eleven-year-old Jane is excited to spend summer vacation with her new (and slightly odd) friend Staffa. She never expects to find herself transported to a miniaturized world whose elfin inhabitants are in revolt against their villainous queen, Staffa's mother. Imaginative details abound in this U.K.-set light fantasy. Appropriately mysterious black-and-white chapter-opener illustrations will keep readers guessing. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 June #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 July #2
In this quirky and appealing British import, down-to-earth Jane, 11, who has six unruly brothers (and is often mistaken for a boy herself), finds her ordinary life changing when peculiar Staffa enrolls in her class and chooses her for a best friend. Staffa's mother, enormous Lady Matilda, is even stranger: wealthy, generous and yet frightening, she invites Jane to journey home with them for vacation. Jane is intrigued by their obsession with a painted box, which turns out to be the portal to a miniature kingdom where they reign, to which she is transported with them. Jane is drawn into what appears to be a fairy tale come true and is mesmerized by her ball gowns and jewels ("She looked like every girl's secret idea of a princess"), but she soon picks up forebodings of ill will and evil deeds. The fairy tale turns into a fast-paced story of political revolution, in which Jane plays an important role. This well-blended mix of romantic fantasy and gripping adventure, starring heroic girls, will speak to a broad audience. Ages 8-11. (July) [Page 57]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 August
Gr 3-6--Jane, a British 11-year-old, is intrigued by the new girl, Staffa. The two enjoy all sorts of activities together, and Staffa's rather bombastic mother, Lady Matilda, invites her to visit them for the summer. Unbeknownst to Jane, if she accepts, she will become a pawn in a vicious plot that will prevent her from ever going home again. Through the vehicle of a dollhouselike box, Jane travels from her own world to that of a magical kingdom terrorized by Matilda, the dictatorial queen. She befriends the Eckers--the queen's fieldmouse-like subjects--and learns of their plans to overthrow the tyrant. When their revolution seems almost doomed, Jane courageously agrees to lead a rescue mission to free the imprisoned king. With the victory complete, Jane is able to return home. Children cannot help but be entranced by this Borrowers-like fantasy that mixes just enough otherworldliness with the realities of home, family, and friends to make one willingly suspend disbelief. The short chapters, introduced by well-executed black-and-white thumbnail sketches, are fast paced and clearly written. The many details, particularly those from the perspective of creatures much smaller than humans, add interest to an already-captivating story. While the rescue plan may be a bit contrived and the ending is predictable, they don't deter from the lively spirit and spunky characters that fill Saunders's text. The plot twists and turns enhance the tale and make one eager to buy into the protagonist's adventures. Furthermore, Jane's willingness to befriend those who are different will be a welcome message for today's readers.--Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI [Page 114]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.