Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Review - Clarence's Big Secret

Clarence's Big Secret
by Christine MacGregor Cation & Roy MacGregor
illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars
Date: 2020
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Clarence Brazier kept a big secret for nearly one hundred years: he didn’t know how to read. This picture book tells the true story of his journey to learn—and then love—to read.

As a young boy, Clarence cut class and took over the farm work when his father was blinded in an accident. Clarence worked as a logger, maintained his own successful farm, and became a father and a grandfather. All the while, he never learned to read. His wife was the only one who knew his secret. When she passed away, Clarence taught himself to read using junk mail. He was almost one hundred years old! Eventually, Clarence confessed to his daughter, a teacher, who helped him learn more. He went on to love reading and became a passionate literacy advocate until he died at age 105.

This inspirational and empowering story highlights Clarence’s resourcefulness and the power of literacy. It illustrates the use of growth mindset to achieve difficult goals, and shows it’s never too late to learn a new skill.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Clarence's Big Secret tells the story of Clarence Brazier, a man who didn't learn to read until he was almost 100 years old!

This is the type of picture book biography I really like. It tells the main events in the subject's life simply, without embellishment, allowing the facts to propel the story forward. There's a nice author's note at the back about literacy and education, and we also find out a little more about Clarence.

The illustrations are a lovely complement to the text, done in soft watercolours. I've encountered Mathilde Cinq-Mars's illustrations before, and while I wasn't previously that impressed with them, I thought they really worked well here.

Overall, this is a nice little biography that proves you're never too old to learn a new skill!

Thank you to NetGalley and Owlkids Books for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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