cover image SECRET HEART


David Almond, , read by Graeme Malcolm. . Listening Library, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8072-0945-5

With a reading as nimble and sure as cat feet, British actor Malcolm seems at home in the strange, exotic world of Almond's latest fantasy. Young Joe Maloney has never felt comfortable in his own skin. He sees creatures and hears voices that most people do not. Tougher still, kids ridicule Joe for his stammer and his odd, introspective ways. But when a tattered, run-down circus comes to Joe's village, he meets a crew of people who truly understand him. Corinne, a trapeze artist Joe's age, just may be his soulmate. And before the circus packs up its tent to leave, Joe finally finds a way to connect to the life force (embodied as a tiger) that he feels in his "secret heart." Fans of Almond's books Kit's Wilderness and Skellig will be the most willing to follow Malcolm's quick yet steady voice through this offbeat and symbol-rich story; others may find the tale's action a bit slow going. Throughout, Malcolm's soft-spoken portrayal of Joe is an excellent fit. Simultaneous release with the Delacorte hardcover. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)