cover image Secret Place

Secret Place

Eve Bunting. Clarion Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-64367-9

Narrated by a city boy living amid crowded concrete and clamorous machines, this visit to a ""secret place"" quietly confides the treasure of a tiny bit of wilderness. In Bunting's (Someday a Tree; Smoky Night) muscular prose and in Rand's (The Owl Who Became the Moon) dusky illustrations, a vulnerable, bright hope emerges. Where a hidden river runs through a cement canyon, the boy and his small band of adult friends find patches of green and evidence that nature has persevered: sparrows, of course, but also green-winged teals, buffleheads, mallards, a white egret and ducklings. Nighttime brings other marvels: a coyote, a mother possum with babies clinging to her back. The boy's response is an authentic, uncontainable enthusiasm--""I want to tell everyone what's here."" But his friend's warning that ""some people might want to take the secret place and change it"" is too discomforting a threat. While the youngster shares the wonder of his secret place intimately and abundantly, he entrusts its precise identity not even to the reader. Revealing and concealing at the same time, this book visits upon the reader the awe and mystery of an almost sacred initiation. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)