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Secrets I Know

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Publisher's Weekly
STARRED REVIEW
As this pensive story opens, a girl sits curled up by a window; her dog gazes out at the garden, where rain falls. “I know lots of secrets,” the girl says, addressing readers. “Like... Secrets are for whispering.” A page turn shows her out in the garden, dressed in a raincoat, viewed through leafy branches (“Whispers hide in trees”). “Trees make great umbrellas,” reads another spread, as the girl sits in a tree house with her dog, protected from the rain. Her linked musings progress (“Sunshine marks the spot... for finding buried treasure. True treasure is a friend”), and she’s joined by a friend who helps her retrieve a telescope that they use to stargaze under the same “umbrella” of a tree. Zakimi (Teddy & Co.) draws animals and plants and their varied textures with care, quietly underscoring the small wonders found in a backyard; matte paper and a restrained palette add to the sense of tranquility. George’s (The Lost Gift) poem celebrates nature, friendship, and understanding things not just with the head but with the heart.

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Kirkus Review
STARRED REVIEW
A small girl shares her secrets (she knows “lots,” and she knows “secrets are for whispering”). She cups her pale hand, covers her mouth, leans into a puppy’s ear, and begins. Throughout her day (marked by raindrops, seashells, sun, play, and, finally, stars) readers hear the girl’s husky, hushed voice unfurling ribbons of loosely tied thoughts and associations. She relays all she knows: “Whispers hide in trees. / Trees make great umbrellas. / Umbrellas are the perfect boats.” The interconnected (perhaps improvised?) litany goes on and on, while short sentences convey charming clarity and punctuated certainty. Full-bleed, double-page spreads depict playtime vignettes that inspire her secrets, and as these pictures run off the page, succeeding one another fluidly, it’s easy to visualize the girl’s secrets all strung together, a cheerful paper chain of ideas and whimsy. Pencil drawings capture the coyness in her upward-cast eyes, the bounce of her bob, her pursed smile, and the windy, leafy outdoors. Dusky digital coloring—mildly murky browns and greens—clouds the illustrations with a subtle cover of mystery, suggesting both a cloudy day and a shadowy, secretive mood. Once indoors, the mood and pictures brighten, lit up by a beaming friendship with her neighbor, a brown-skinned boy equally excited by stargazing. He also knows that “Stars keep your secrets. / They only tell the trees.” Psst! This book holds delightful secrets. And these secrets shouldn’t be missed. (Picture book. 3-8)

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Horn Book
Whimsical text (“Secrets are for whispering”) and illustrations in muted colors convey the thoughtful interior life of a little girl’s day at play. She heads outside
on a windy day with her yellow raincoat, her umbrella, and her lamb-like little dog, noticing that the sound of the blowing leaves makes it sound like “whispers hide in trees.” After waiting out a rain shower in a treehouse, she floats her open umbrella in a puddle, and then sets up a pretend tea party in a sandbox, with seashells for cups and saucers. Each double-page spread holds just one phrase or sentence (occasionally, two), but the story is told largely through the illustrations, so children will linger to see what the girl and dog do next. Zakimi’s digitally colored pencil illustrations play with the thickness of lines to give texture. Toward the end, the little girl (who is white) visits with a brown-skinned friend, and the two return together to the treehouse with a telescope to look at the sky: “Stars keep your secrets. They only tell the trees. And trees make great umbrellas. Which you already know.” This quiet picture book celebrates the joys of observation and old-fashioned playtime.

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School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1–A girl explores the secrets in her backyard in this whimsical picture book that celebrates a child’s imagination. The poetic text builds the story one idea at a time as she moves about her day. “I know lots of secrets. Like…/Secrets are for whispering./Whispers hide in trees./Trees make great umbrellas./Umbrellas are the perfect boats.” Each verse is accompanied by subtle, full-page, digitally rendered pencil drawings, in muted earth tone colors, that quietly share her secrets with others. The child’s adventure leads to finding treasure in a friend and confiding secrets in the stars, who tell only the trees, as the lyrical word association brings the narrative full circle. VERDICT The large format makes this serene tale perfectly suited for one-on-one or small group reading, as it thoroughly captures the inspiring wonders of a day of play in one’s own backyard.
~ Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY

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Waking Brain Cells Review
A little girl spends a rainy day playing in her backyard and sharing secrets with the reader. She knows lots of secrets like secrets are for whispering and whispers hide in trees. She uses the tree as an umbrella and then her umbrella as a boat for her toys. She and her puppy play in the sandbox and have a tea party there, the sunshine sweetening the tea. A friend joins her and they play dress up and then head outside to the trees once again when darkness falls and the stars come out.

George writes with a poetic simplicity here. In the little girl’s voice, she chains together the different experiences she is having, each one leading naturally to the next. It’s rather like a daisy-chain of a picture book spent outside and having a wonderful time whether on her own or with a friend.

Zakimi’s illustrations are detailed and filled with warmth. The blustery and rainy day is shown as an opportunity to play outside and have fun, not as anything that limits activities. Even darkness can’t stop the little girl from enjoying herself outdoors as stars fill the sky. The use of just one backyard as the canvas for the day shows how large imagination can be and how much fun can be had.

A simple book with lots of big ideas, this picture book shows how any day can be a special one. 

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Book Page Review
In her raincoat and boots, an eager girl and her puppy are ready to follow the breezes in their backyard. After rain sends her scampering for shelter, leftover puddles are just the beginning of an adventure. Following her imagination and unfazed by the changing weather, she hosts a seashell tea party, sends her toys on a mini nautical adventure and eventually recruits a friend for one final quest.

Told in first person with simple words, Secrets I Knowlets imaginations flourish. Kallie George makes good use of personification and metaphors, lending an extra bit of poetic enchantment. Paola Zakimi illustrates with a zoomed-in intensity, drawing readers deep within the tale through scenes that are as lush and soft as the best-kept gardens. Varying shades of green recall our own childhood memories, when everything was bigger and more wondrous. Each page is worth exploring, with wild animals, toys and tucked-away bicycles.

Secrets I Know feels both timeless and fresh, like an old classic that has faded just enough without losing its sense of wonder.

Secrets I Know

Order: Indie Store / Amazon: US | Can

Illustration Gallery:
The Lost Gift.Duck, Duck, Dinosaur. Spark.Spark.