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Secret Heart by David Almond

Secret Heart

by David Almond

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Once again David Almond writes a story that is at once accessible and profound. Once again his prose blurs the distinctions between the real and the imagined, and we enter into a world which feels real and yet has a hint of the magical about it.

Joe Malone is a loner. He prefers teh open countryside to being cramped in school. He is surrounded by people trying to make him fit with their definition of what a man should be.

When a small and dying circus comes to town, he finds a kindred spirit. In particular he finds someone who understands the reality of his secret heart.

This is not a long book. Had it been longer the adults might be more fleshed out and less inclined to just induce conflict. But the book works as it is, and the conflicts of societies expectations and our own desires, and so much more are all explored here in another wonderful tale by this first rate author. ( )
  sirfurboy | Oct 9, 2009 |
Another strange and mysterious novel by David Almond. This is definitely a book that fits within his style. The novel is well-written, the characters well-developed. The setting is new and intriguing. ( )
  Saieeda | Jun 7, 2009 |
Yet another notable book by David Almond.

Joe Malone is more backward and different than the scruffy, motely crew existing in Helmouth, a teeny village at the city's tiny edge. He struggles with words; he struggles with school; he struggles with surviving the cruel taunts of the town ruffians.

Blending fantasy with reality, Almond weaves a magical tale as we journey with Joe who is drawn to a rag tag circus group that parks its rusty, tattered carts and tent on the fringe of town. Both the circus "freaks" and Joe experience the nastiness of petty minded, small people in a backward hamlet.

As in other Almond books, the character finds a strong female friend who awakens all that is good and right.

Symbolically Joe hears and sees a powerful tiger at the edge of the wilderness and in a mythological way embraces the spirit and soul of that animal. In battling the tiger and in finding a like spirited group of circus friends, he becomes stronger and embraces his uniqueness.
  Whisper1 | Jan 3, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440418275, Mass Market Paperback)

David Almond's extraordinary books skirt the edge of fantasy with stories that reveal the magic all around us in everyday life. His novels--among them the exquisite Skellig, and the Printz Prize winner Kit's Wilderness--are not for literal-minded kids, but only for those young dreamers who can float with the symbolism and enjoy the fragrance of mysticism.

In Secret Heart Joe Maloney and his good mum live in the dilapidated English village of Helmouth, on the edge of the wasteland. He dreams of a tiger padding into his room, and the next morning a great blue tent has appeared on the edge of town: Hackenschmidt's Circus, on its final tour. The young toughs who always make fun of Joe stand around sneering at the circus folks, "Clear off, gyppo scum!" But Joe is fascinated with the blue dusk inside the tent, and with Corinna, a young trapeze flyer his own age. He turns away from the urgings of his best friend, Stanny, to come along on a camping trip with sinister Joff, who wants to make a man of him by teaching him to kill things. He much prefers the strange, warm-hearted circus people and learning to jump with Corinna into the net far below the trapeze. But in the sad last days of this circus there are no longer any wild animals. "There are no tigers," says Corinna, but Joe knows better as he goes into the wood to save them by a final confrontation with the great striped beast. A strangely satisfying story, delicate and engaging. (Ages 11 to 14) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Living with his mother in a small village on the edge of the suburbs, shy, often inarticulate, Joe Maloney frequently dreams of a beautiful, elusive tiger whose significance begins to be clear after he befriends a young trapeze artist who comes to town with a shabby traveling circus.… (more)

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