Clarence’s Big Secret by Christine MacGregor Cation and Roy MacGregor, illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars means more to me as an adult than I imagine it would have to me as a child. It has such strong themes of shame, pride, education, and growth that I imagine it’s a bit much for a children’s book. And yet, at the same time, it’s an amazing story that teaches such important messages to the point that both children and adults will benefit immensely from having it in their lives.
This is the story of a young boy who had to interrupt his education in order to provide for his family after his father was injured. In doing so, Clarence gains a large and dark secret: he doesn’t know how to read. He grows up, keeping this secret close, even as he marries and has children. Eventually, one person, his wife, learns of his struggles. Fueled by his embarrassment, she helps him to survive the world without ever needing to read a single word. It is not until many years later, nearly a hundred years old, that Clarence finally works to learn how to read.
Clarence’s Big Secret is an incredibly moving story. Though it takes him many, many years to finally learn, Clarence proves that it doesn’t matter how old one is. As long as they are willing to put in the hard work and effort, they can learn anything. And the amount of growth Clarence had to go through to finally admit his struggles and change his life around was great to see.
In its own way, this story is truly inspiring. It gives an opportunity to take away some amazing messages of understanding and growth. I remain impressed with and emotional about this tale to this day and I hope others will be as well.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.