Joe lives with his mother in Helmouth, a forgotten village crumbling on the edge of the suburbs. His days are spent trying to evade the demands of school and the taunts of the local bullies. Joe's friend, Stanny, insists that Joe must toughen up, become a survivor - and he is adamant that a weekend in the wilderness with Stanny and his Uncle Joff will do the trick.Into Joe's unhappy world comes Hackenschmidt's Circus, and with it the strangely familiar Corinna. She tells Joe, 'In the circus there is a secret heart ' - a place of contained wildness where the barriers between the human and animal world are fluid. And indeed, Joe's dreams are already stalked by a tiger, so real that his skin and its pelt begin to feel as one...A stunning novel from the author of the modern children's classic Skellig - winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.
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David Almond's extraordinary books skirt the edge of fantasy with stories that reveal the magic all around us in everyday life. His novels--among them the exquisite Skellig, and the Printz Prize winner Kit's Wilderness--are not for literal-minded kids, but only for those young dreamers who can float with the symbolism and enjoy the fragrance of mysticism.
In Secret Heart Joe Maloney and his good mum live in the dilapidated English village of Helmouth, on the edge of the wasteland. He dreams of a tiger padding into his room, and the next morning a great blue tent has appeared on the edge of town: Hackenschmidt's Circus, on its final tour. The young toughs who always make fun of Joe stand around sneering at the circus folks, "Clear off, gyppo scum!" But Joe is fascinated with the blue dusk inside the tent, and with Corinna, a young trapeze flyer his own age. He turns away from the urgings of his best friend, Stanny, to come along on a camping trip with sinister Joff, who wants to make a man of him by teaching him to kill things. He much prefers the strange, warm-hearted circus people and learning to jump with Corinna into the net far below the trapeze. But in the sad last days of this circus there are no longer any wild animals. "There are no tigers," says Corinna, but Joe knows better as he goes into the wood to save them by a final confrontation with the great striped beast. A strangely satisfying story, delicate and engaging. (Ages 11 to 14) --Patty CampbellFrom the Inside Flap:
Joe Maloney is out of place in this world. His mother wants him to be a man, and he can?t be that yet. His only friend, Stanny Mole, wants to teach him how to kill, and Joe can?t learn that. Joe?s mind is always somewhere else: on the weird creatures he sees in the distant sky, the songs he hears in the air around him, the vibrations of life he feels everywhere. Everybody laughs at Joe Maloney.
And then a tattered circus comes to town, and a tiger comes for him. It leads him out into the night, and nothing in Joe Maloney?s world is ever the same again.
The transformative power of imagination and beauty flows through this story of a boy who walks where others wouldn?t dare to go, a boy with the heart of a tiger, an unlikely hero who knows that sometimes the most important things are the most mysterious.
From the Hardcover edition.
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