cover image I Know Your Secret

I Know Your Secret

Daphne Benedis-Grab. Scholastic Press, $7.99 paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-338-74633-4

It’s Explorer’s Day at Upstate New York’s Snow Valley Secondary, where most of the Gold Star Award–receiving middle school’s students are thrilled to experience electives that aren’t normally part of the curriculum. But the day’s promise of gleeful chaos takes a far more sinister turn for four students—goofball Owen, popular Gemma, tough-guy Todd (all of whom read as white), and quiet Ally (adopted from Kazakhstan)—when each receives a threatening anonymous message. If they don’t together perform a series of seemingly unrelated tasks around the school, they’re told, their darkest secrets will be exposed. PW contributor Benedis-Grab (The Chocolate Challenge) keeps the tension high from the start of this taut whodunit, alternating third-person perspectives among the four tweens and a group transcript. As they reluctantly follow the blackmailer’s orders, strong character development reveals their shared compassion and understanding. Though the climax’s sympathies feel slightly muddled, this enjoyable, pared-down thriller admirably tackles bullying, environments in which it is allowed to propagate, and the importance of speaking truth to power. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Dec.)