The Secret Fawn by Kallie George, illus. by Elly MacKay

Review by Katie Gaston

Tundra Books (Penguin Random House), February 2021

40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 9780735265165

Ages 3–7, Grades Pre-K–1

Picture Book, Contemporary Realism, Fiction, Science/Nature

Objects or creatures that are tiny are sometimes considered unimportant, insignificant, and thus get overlooked. The Secret Fawn by Kallie George invites young readers to challenge these small ideas and to find big power within themselves.

The story takes place in an idyllic setting where a young girl and her family live in a house at the edge of a forest. Against this natural backdrop, exciting events endlessly abound: the first shooting star of the night, the first apple of the season, and the first sighting of a deer. Despite these natural wonders being so nearby, the little girl is always too short or too young to participate, and finds herself continually missing out on the fun. Fed up with constant misfortunes, she sets out into the woods with a single sugar cube in her pocket, and stumbles across a creature even more magical than what she was searching for: a fawn.

The Secret Fawn is an adventurous tale that guides readers through all layers of the forest, to discover a vast array of sounds, colours, flora, and fauna. Illustrator Elly MacKay’s use of soft, earthy tones and textures create dreamy, pellucid scenes. Author Kallie George’s minimalistic and beautiful storytelling intertwines with MacKay’s ethereal paper-cut illustrations, presenting a story that looks, sounds, and feels like a warm sunlight’s glow. 

The heartfelt, lyrical prose makes for the perfect story for little ones who struggle with feeling small or left out. George captures the wonderful moment when exploration and fate perfectly align, inspiring children to be the first, and to go out and make their own mark in the world. The Secret Fawn is a perfect reminder that no one is ever too small to make a difference.

Katie Gaston is a Canadian writer. She is passionate about expression and studies English literature and music at the University of British Columbia. When she is not composing bad love songs on the piano, she is attempting to write the next great Canadian novel and is drinking too many iced matcha lattes.

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