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Review of Binny in Secret

mckay_binny in secretstar2 Binny in Secret
by Hilary McKay; illus. by Micah Player
Intermediate, Middle School     McElderry     276 pp.
6/15      978-1-4424-8278-4     $16.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-8280-7     $10.99

Belinda (Binny for Short, rev. 1/14) is back, along with her single-parent mum, responsible sister Clem, and lovable little brother James. In this second adventure the Cornwallis family faces yet another move (a storm wrecks their roof ), this one temporary and not far away (a rented house, just outside town in the country). Twelve-year-old Binny is starting at a new school, where she immediately makes an enemy of classmate Clare by accidentally squashing Clare’s mother’s birthday cake, flowers, and card. (“I said sorry. I said it about a million times. A million million.”) Binny then complains aloud about their new landlady — a “bossy old witchy woman” — who turns out to be none other than Clare’s mother. Poor Binny, now remorselessly bullied at school, finds refuge in the outdoors, where she discovers the magic of spotting animals in the wild; Clare, also an animal lover, eventually becomes a kindred spirit, and the two team up to save a rare lynx. As in the first book, alternating chapters offer a complementary narrative: starting in 1912, the second narrative follows a girl, Clarry, and her brother, who spend summers with an older cousin in the country. The connections between the two stories grow — school troubles, natural history, gun-toting boys — ultimately resulting in “wonderful and astonishing things.” McKay continues to enthrall readers with her vigorous blend of screwball comedy and heartfelt emotion. Illustrations not seen.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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