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The Secret Drawer Club
Barbe Turner, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

This is the story of Zim, a fifth grade boy, new to William E. Zane Elementary School, who finds himself embraced by the popular kids in Miss Prudence Poppycock’s class. He was never looking to be popular, but once he is, he finds he likes it. Zim’s life is happy-go-lucky until suddenly, he is confronted with Maralissa Lou, an odd boy with unfortunate physical traits, who is accustomed to being judged by his looks. This does not, however, diminish Maralissa’s resolve to try to make friends and let everyone know who he is on the inside. When Zim, who is a nice, friendly boy with a good kind heart, meets Maralissa and sees the reaction of his popular classmates to Maralissa, he lets himself and his good heart down for the first time in his life. He walks away from Maralissa, leaving him all alone and asking, “Hey, why won’t you play with me?” Miss Poppycock sees the problem in her room, and concerned by the diminishing twinkle in children’s eyes over the years, decides something must be done. When Zim discovers a secret drawer in his desk containing a special notebook with an invitation to become a Knight in the Order of the Secret Drawer, Zim is taken on a self-discovery journey that leads him to be true to his own good heart, lead by example, and repair the damage he’d caused to himself and to Maralissa on the first day of school.
Kirkus Review

An offbeat young boy, a well-liked student and an ingenious teacher meet in this debut children’s book.

Zack “Zim” Zimmerman is one of the most popular fifth-graders at William E. Zane Elementary School. He has a ton of friends, gets good grades and is among the stars of the Knights soccer team. His classmate Maralissa Lou, on the other hand, has a strange name, “two too-large ears and a small crop of unruly brown hair right in the center of the top” of his head, and a rather eclectic wardrobe. When Zim and his friends reject him, their resourceful teacher, Miss Poppycock, creates the Secret Drawer Club to make them all mingle. Poppycock puts a notebook in Zim’s desk and gives him various quests to complete with the other kids. By the end, everyone has learned a little more about each other and about acceptance. Maralissa Lou is a fun, frothy character who’s a great role model for kids: He knows he’s a bit odd, but he accepts his differences with the knowledge that they make him special. Zim is also highly relatable, as he shows that doing the right thing can sometimes be hard; in the end, he learns a lesson and becomes a better person. The prose is a bit basic, but children will be held by Holzschuh’s illustrations, although they might have been lovelier in full color. The foreword and short poem by Coker, however, seem strange additions for a kids’ book, even if the verse is about Maralissa Lou. Overall, though, Turner’s book is a sweet read for children and adults, particularly at the beginning of a new school year.

An imaginative, playful book about accepting and embracing differences.

We earned a Mom's Choice Award!

The Secret Drawer Club is a proud honoree of The Mom's Choice Award.