Review: 44 Tiny Secrets

44 Tiny Secrets is a gorgeously charming, heart-warming and humorous story that will entrance younger readers with both the words and illustrations. 

Despite practising the piano, Betsy Bow-Linnet, the daughter of famous concert pianists, just cannot play very well which would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that she has overheard her mother saying that her lack of talent was ‘a Terrible Disappointment’.  Hearing this makes Betsy put herself under pressure to become better at playing and, with her Grandad’s support, she practises every day whilst her parents are away.

On their return, she summons up the courage to play for them at a dinner party.  She feels proud of herself as she is note-perfect, but this proves not to have been good enough when she finds herself being harshly criticised in the gossip column of The London Natter

Feeling isolated from her family, Betty finds a letter addressed to her from a stranger which offers to help make her next performance incredible, just so long as she keeps the method behind her success a secret …

The ‘Method’ for improving her playing is the cutest – and rather naughty – collection of 44 African pygmy mice … will Betsy be able to keep her secret and make her parents proud, or will the truth unfold?

Don’t waste your time on something you don’t love.

This is a wonderful story, told in an engaging and humorous manner, about being true to yourself, and about finding your own talents, rather than trying to live up to others’ expectations.  

I adored the relationship between Betsy and her Grandad.  He is all sorts of wonderful:  kind, loving, patient and encouraging.  She clearly loves and trusts him.  I really felt for Betsy when she overheard herself being referred to in a negative way as she didn’t have the talent of her famous parents – it really shows how much words can hurt, and how they can affect decisions.  Betsy finds herself trapped in a lie which leads to the revelation of some incredible truths …

The story illustrations by Ashley King are absolutely gorgeous.  I loved the mix of the many shades of green which add vibrancy: a perfect complement to the story. In fact, the whole feel of this book is special with the inclusion of coloured pages, a range of fonts, and chapter heading images.  I have no doubt that it will be a treasured addition to many young readers’ book collections.

Thank you to Charlie and Little Tiger for an early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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