cover image Stanley’s Secret

Stanley’s Secret

John Sullivan, illus. by Zach Manbeck. S&S/Wiseman, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-8783-3

“Stanley was a quiet boy. When he attended birthday parties, he hid in the corner and read. When he gave a book report, he spoke softly.” Quiet or not, Stanley dreams of tap-dancing on a big stage. But he doesn’t tell anyone except his pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles, and he dances only after hours in his school’s empty rooms, while helping the janitor. Prose by Sullivan (Kitten and the Night Watchman) quickly establishes Stanley’s private way (“At lunch, Stanley quietly ate his sandwich with mayonnaise, even though he’d said, ‘no toppings, please’ ”), while juxtaposing artwork by Manbeck (You Are Here) sizzles with energetically charged lines and chalky, saturated shades, portraying Stanley in vibrant orange hues. In a satisfying twist, a visit to the principal’s office results in support, and a suggestion to sign up for the talent show: “Talent should be shared,” the principal says. The text pays careful attention to the way Stanley addresses his nervousness (“With the talent show quickly approaching, Stanley mustered the courage to dance for a classmate”) as he moves into his dream with grace. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)