________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004


Lucy's Secret.

Mireille Levert.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88899-566-0.

Subject Headings:
Plants-Juvenile fiction.
Gardens-Juvenile fiction.
Patience-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Lisa Doucet.

***1/2 /4


Anna Zinnia calls softly, "Look, Lucy. Let's see what we can find in the tree of life. I'll show you a secret."

When I open the box, I see little shining seeds.

"In each seed lies a hidden baby flower," says Anna Zinnia.

"How can it be born?" I ask.

"Make a little hole in the soil. Put the seed in. Cover it with earth and water it gently. There you are. But the secret lies in the waiting," insists Anna Zinnia.


When Anna Zinnia invites little Lucy into her garden, what wonders and miraculous discoveries await them there! Together, they witness the magic of Mother Nature as they watch the many creatures that flit and flutter through the leaves and the flowers and the grasses. Truly, this is a special place, one of mystery and enchantment. But Anna Zinnia has even more marvels to share! She shows Lucy a handful of tiny seeds, miniature vessels that hide within themselves the gift of beautiful flowers. Together they plant the seeds, and Lucy joyfully awaits the birth of the baby plants. But where are they, and why are they so long in coming? Anna Zinnia gently reminds her that patience is the key, that like Lucy, herself, the flowers will grow slowly and in their own time. "The secret lies in the waiting," she claims. And in the end, we believe that Lucy might just understand, and believe in, the truth of Anna Zinnia's words.

internal art      Lucy's Secret is a charming and beautiful celebration of the natural world and of all the delightful possibilities that a garden can hold. The lovely watercolour and acrylic illustrations perfectly express the mood of the story and capture the vibrance and whimsy of the text. Subtle details within the illustrations (Anna Zinnia's and Lucy's matching animal slippers, the books growing amidst the flowers) create a playful tone. Overall, the images manage to bring small readers into Lucy's joyful romp in the garden. Furthermore, the sentences are short and simple enough to satisfy young listeners, but the language is nonetheless evocative and poetic, allowing one to be transported by the peaceful, soothing atmosphere of the story. Personally, I was especially captivated by the description of a garden as a big library where "the flowers and the bugs are like books. They have so much to tell us." Both metaphorically and visually, in the accompanying illustration, this proved to be a compelling image. My one disappointment with the book was that I was unclear of Anna Zinnia and Lucy's relationship to one another. While they clearly shared a special bond of some sort, I think it would have been a meaningful detail to have included in the story. (i.e. was Anna Zinnia a beloved friend or neighbour, a cherished auntie?)

     A lovely book to share with a child, Lucy's Secret provides a wonderful opportunity for discussing different aspects of nature. It is very visually appealing with lots to look at on each page without the pictures ever feeling too cluttered. Whatever the relationship between the two characters in this book, their shared love for the garden is infectious!

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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