Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Secret Olivia Told Me

Joy, N. 2007. The Secret Olivia Told Me. Ill. by Nancy Devard. East Orange, NJ: Just Us Books.

Although some of the rhymes flow awkwardly,

"Tony leaked the secret to Jalen. Jalen's sister, Anita, overheard.
It didn't take long for Anita to start spreading the word,"

this book has more positives than negatives. The storyline is an age-old dilemma. Olivia tells a secret to her best friend on the playground. The story is told as a first person account by Olivia's friend. As much as she wants to keep the secret, it just slips out. The story follows the secret as it grows and spreads.

This is artist Nancy Devard's first picture book with Just Us Books, and her illustrations are compelling. Her previous career as an engineer is exhibited in the perfection of these dramatic illustrations, done primarily in white, black and red. To ensure the reader's focus , Devard chooses a red balloon to represent the secret while the children are all presented in exquisitely detailed silhouettes in black and white. The balloon grows ever larger and its string lengthens and twists as it passes from child to child.

In addition to the illustrations, the plot and its resolution are perfect for introducing the hazards of gossip and the concept of personal responsibility.

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