Harry’s Secret by Anita Heiss
Published by Scholastic Australia
Harry’s Secret by Anita Heiss is about a young boy living in Cowra NSW with a passion and talent for sketching portraits and who also happens to be indigenous. Harry is embarrassed by his art because his skateboarding friends think that art is for ‘wusses’ so he draws in secret.
His secret is exposed when he wins a local art competition under a pseudonym and although he is reluctant to come forward to claim first prize at first, he discovers fame and fortune when he finally finds the courage.
The story touches on themes of peer pressure, self discovery and acceptance. The message is that being unique is something to aspire to, not shy away from. Harry encounters some challenges that most young readers will share. He finds support in a girl he likes who recognises his talent and he is surprised at the way his friends celebrate his success when his artistic persona is forced into the open.
Harry’s personal secret is about his love of drawing but it could be about anything. It’s a story that inspires confidence to be authentic and true to yourself, even if you’re different to anyone you know and fearful about owning it.
Cowra is the star of this book. References to the town, community and culture are weaved throughout the narrative. The language is fresh and contemporary, making it totally relatable to Aussie kids right now. There is a skateboarding glossary for those not familiar with the jargon.
It is refreshing to read an Australian book for Australian kids set in a regional area. This book speaks to young readers in a colloquial, natural voice. Harry’s Secret is an inspirational read, especially for kids who could use some encouragement, perfect for classroom reading time.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Anita Heiss
Title: Harry’s Secret
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: October 2015