Young Adult Literature


Secret Heart
by David Almond


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 Campbel