Thursday, January 5, 2023

Today's read... Stanley's Secret by John Sullivan

 Today's read centers around a slightly original theme—tap dancing! I'm fascinated by this dance style and remember as a kid, wishing I could take lessons. But that was out of the question due to financial reasons. I did, however, discover that my own father had taken lessons when he was a child...and he does remember several steps, although he is more than reluctant to admit that he does. 

This read hits the shelves at the end of the month and promises a message of encouragement and inspiration. Let's take a peek and find out how it is!

by John Sullivan
Illustrated by Zach Manbeck
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

JANUARY 24th!!!

The award-winning author of Kitten and the Night Watchman is back with an inspiring and poignant picture book about a boy learning the self-confidence to fulfill his dream of dancing in front of his peers.

The only audience shy, quiet Stanley dances in front of is his pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles. He also practices when he’s alone in empty classrooms or the gym when he helps the janitor after school, tatp dancing shuffle, tippy-tap, tippy-tap. “Talent should be shared,” encourages Principal Reynolds. Can Stanley find the courage to perform in the school talent show?



With beautiful illustrations, which set the right tone, a boy finds the courage not to hide the one thing he loves to do.

Stanley is a quiet boy and never draws any attention to himself. But he has a secret. Stanley loves to tap dance. The only creatures, who know about his secret are two mice. He also helps out the janitor after school, and that's when he can practice his steps...when no one is looking. But when the principal catches sight of his moves, she hopes to put him in the talent show.

I'm starting out with the illustrations because these are lovely and fit the scenes so well. With the darker tones, the atmosphere of Stanley's secret and emotions is set and thrives. Plus, the swing of colors and lines emphasis the music and dance.

The text is well written, flows nicely, and makes Stanley's problem clear. It makes a nice read-aloud and is tight enough to keep slightly impatient listeners engaged, as well.

Stanley's quiet nature comes across smoothly and avoids any signs of bullying along the way. He is lonely, except for the adorable mice. The tap dancing adds an original touch and is presented in a way, which might have some listeners tapping their own toes. I did wonder how he learned the steps, considering he didn't even want his parents to know his desire, and it never shows him watching anyone. But his love for the movement comes through crystal does his apprehension when the principal approaches him. When the entire thing rounds off on an inspiring note of courage and embracing ones' differences, it creates a lovely tale with a meaningful message which resonates. Plus, again, the mice are cute.

And here they are...

John Sullivan received the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Margaret Wise Brown Prize for his debut picture book Kitten and the Night Watchman, also named a best book of the year by The Boston GlobeKirkus ReviewsPublishers Weekly, and BookPage. He is also the author of Ethan and the Strays and Stanley’s Secret. John is a cat lover and tap dancer who formerly worked as a night watchman. He lives in Chicago.

Zach Manbeck is an author and illustrator living in Pennsylvania. As an artist, his work is described as modern vintage—nostalgic, yet fresh. As a creator, Zach aims to tell stories from new perspectives: stories that advocate for characters that haven’t yet had a chance to live in books. Learn more at

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