Book Title: 44 Tiny Secrets (available here)
Author: Sylvia Bishop
Illustrator: Ashley King
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Publication Date: July 2020
Suitable For: KS1 & Lower KS2
Reviewed By: Jo Littlewood
Betsy Bow-Linnet comes from a family of pianists. Her mum and dad are world-renowned; her grandad was a famous pianist in his day, and her grandma was the only one who did not play the piano. Sadly, Betsy doesn’t appear to have inherited their talent. One week, while her parents are away she practises and practises Chopin’s Mazurka and is able to play it note perfectly at a party they host on their return.
When the newspaper gossip column the following day calls Betsy's playing a tragedy, because of her lack of emotion, it comes as a bit of a shock. Then she receives a letter, which tells her that she could play perfectly with a proven method, but she has to keep it a secret. The next day the 44 tiny secrets that can help her are revealed - and help her they do. But can she keep it a secret when others hear her playing in her room?
This was a wonderful book that could be used to introduce children to some of the delights of classical music. They could be introduced to a number of composers, particularly Beethoven and Chopin who are mentioned in the story. It could also be used as an introduction to the piano, with simple diagrams of how they work and the notes of the scale mentioned frequently. The story could also be used to explore themes of keeping secrets in PSHE lessons and the feelings this could bring as this is a key theme in the book.
The illustrations perfectly match the text and the descriptive language, particularly of the characters, builds up an even bigger picture that gives the story an extra dimension. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this story as a class read-aloud with Year 2 or 3. This was the first Sylvia Bishop book I’ve read and I’ll definitely be reading more!
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jo for reviewing it.
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