Keeping Secrets

Tormod Haugen, Author, David R. Jacobs, Translator, Donna Diamond, Photographer
Tormod Haugen, Author, David R. Jacobs, Translator, Donna Diamond, Photographer HarperCollins Publishers $15 (126p) ISBN 978-0-06-020881-3
Hardcover - 126 pages - 978-0-06-020882-0
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Nina and her parents, Eva and Martin, are a ``happy family''--at least that's what 10-year-old Nina is told. ``But their eyes seldom smiled. / Nina had noticed that.'' On the first day of their vacation, Martin and Eva are outraged to find that someone has been living in their summer house and that he has even left behind a pair of sneakers. Nina discovers their owner, a boy who hides in a large maple tree in the garden. Eluding her increasingly hysterical and authoritarian parents, she befriends the nameless boy, and learns that he is staying away from his own nearby home to pressure his fractious parents to mend their relationship. In trying to reunite the boy with his family, Nina goes a long way toward healing her own. Originally published in Norway in 1976, the book has an unusual format, with poetic sentences arranged in numbered stanzas, and it comes off a little mannered at first. But once the novelty wears off, the structure provides a superb framework for the dreamy yet vividly evocative text. Ages 9-12. (June)
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