Stanley’s Secret (John Sullivan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Stanley’s Secret, written by John Sullivan and illustrated by Zach Manbeck, a sweet story about sharing one’s talents with the world.

Stanley is a quiet kid. He tends to spend parties reading in the corner, he speaks softly during book reports, and doesn’t speak up when the lunch lady makes his sandwich with mayonnaise, even though he’d asked for no toppings. So when he engages in his greatest passion, tap dance, he definitely doesn’t like to have an audience, unless it’s his pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles. But one day, while dancing in an empty room, he is spotted by the school principal, who raves over his talent. She convinces him to join the school talent show, but while Stanley dreams of performing in front of an audience, he is still so nervous! Can he overcome his stage fright in time?

Heartwarming. Shyness and/or stage fright is something that plenty of young kids deal with, and while no one should be forced into the limelight against their will, Sullivan wisely makes it clear that Stanley’s dream is to find the courage to perform publicly. From there, the books reads as a subtle guide to overcoming such fears: performing for gradually larger audiences, gaining confidence through practice, even closing one’s eyes to help feel centered and not overwhelmed. Paired with Manbeck’s brilliant use of color, shadow, and light to show Stanley’s growth and the sparkling impact of his talents, and this makes for a wonderfully encouraging story for kiddos hoping to overcome their own bashfulness. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I both really enjoyed this one. Absolutely worth a read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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