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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can I Tell You A Secret? Written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant. Harper, 2016. $21.99 ages 3 and up

"You're probably thinking,
"But you're a frog."

I know. But I'm afraid. I
have been ever since I was
a tadpole.

How did I keep the secret
for so long?

Good question."

Aw, look at that anxious little face? You know that you are going to listen to the frog's secret ... and keep it, don't you? How could anyone resist the plea?

As we are drawn into the drama that appears to be unfolding, the frog invites us to come closer, then closer until, with a lot of trying to reassure himself, he finally speaks the words he finds so hard to say.

"I'm afraid of the water."

It is, of course, a huge surprise that a frog could be afraid of the water. Look, that's where they spend most of their time. But, he's been afraid of it forever and has always kept it a secret. He offers up the many ploys he has used to protect those feelings. He's even sad about his secret - he really wants to swim.

Will he take our advice? He wants to do that:

"What's that? You think I should tell someone?
Like my parents?
Are you sure? POSITIVE?
You wouldn't lie to me, right?"

Of course, we wouldn't.

I can hear all of his young compassionate readers encouraging him to fess up, and let someone important know just exactly how he is feeling. It does take courage and our support to move him forward.

The dialogue between frog and reader is on point, and full of angst. Christopher Weyant's watercolor and ink artwork is full of expression and fun. I love the lineup on the bulrushes as tiny frogs wait patiently for their next dive into the pond, the grumpy-looking, watchful toad lifeguard, the floaties, the hilarious visual descriptions of the tiny frog's ploys to avoid being in the water.

Kids are going to enjoy this very much, and it might even help someone break free of a long-kept secret fear to let another know about it.

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