‘The Secrets of Billie Bright’ is the warm and funny new story in the ‘Secret Series’ from the brilliant Susie Day. Susie writes books that I would have loved to have read as a child, she just has this insight that I find refreshing and they are pitched at such a perfect level, they are truly fantastic. Featuring families, friendships and real life issues, Susie explores what it’s like to be a child in a world where things don’t always go to plan. Wonderfully diverse and effortlessly entertaining Susie’s books are a must for all school libraries, offering an ideal transition for children getting ready to move on to secondary school.
Meet 11 year old Billie, the youngest of four getting ready to make the leap into the unknown of secondary school. Surrounded by three big brothers and living in a noisy chaotic family she feels ready for big school, determined to prove she is no longer a baby and is actually very grown up. Excited about the new challenges that lie ahead – despite her best friends moving away – she embraces school life. But when her new teacher Miss Eagle asks them to write a Hero Project about someone who inspires them and Billie chooses her Mum who died when she was five, it causes upset and confusion in her family. Little does she know that she is about to unravel a secret which will change her whole perspective and nothing will ever be quite the same again.
You can’t help but find Billie incredibly endearing, her confidence and enthusiasm is delightful but she shows you her vulnerable side when she realises that moving on isn’t as easy as she first thought. It deals with so many of the issues and feelings that children experience but they are just layers of the story they don’t detract from the narrative, instead they make it feel more genuine and realistic. It actually mentions periods as well but not in a ‘oh my this is a dreadful time’ type way, instead it just happens at a sleepover and it isn’t a huge issue. Girls need to read books which address the realities of growing up and that actually they are just an ordinary part of life, they shouldn’t be hidden away. I also love how Susie features a cast of characters from her previous books as Billie befriends Sam (from The Secrets of Sam and Sam) and there are mentions for Pea too. For me this feels like Billie is part of a community that I know, one which I enjoy getting wrapped up in and finding out more. This is a book that I will be urging my 10 year old daughter and all her friends to read, it is just delightful.
Also available in the Secret Series is ‘The Secrets of Sam and Sam’ which features twins Sam and Sammie who are getting ready to go on their Year 6 residential trip and face the ‘Death Slide of Doom’. You can find out more on Susie’s website.
For younger readers I can’t recommend enough the fantastic Pea’s book series which has just been reissued with these gorgeous new covers designed by Lisa Horton. Featuring sisters Clover, Pea, and Tinkerbell whose lives are turned upside down when they leave their tiny flat in Tenby for a whole new life in London when their Mum becomes Marina Cove, author of the bestselling Mermaid Girls books. Enjoy a sneak peek of ‘Pea’s Book of Dreams’ here to find out more!