The Totally Secret Secret (Ballet Cat #1)

by Bob Shea (Author) Bob Shea (Illustrator)

The Totally Secret Secret (Ballet Cat #1)
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
Series: Ballet Cat

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do.

When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Tapping into the same barely restrained exuberance and visual energy that characterizes much of his previous work, Shea introduces Ballet Cat, a pearls-and-tutu-wearing feline who loves to dance as much as the author's Dinosaur and Cheetah characters love winning. The problem? Ballet Cat's best friend, Sparkles the Pony, may be getting a tad tired of "playing ballet" every day. Like Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie, these two are a contemporary comic duo with staying power; Shea mines Ballet Cat's dialed-up enthusiasm and Sparkles's hangdog expressions for everything they are worth. Boldly contrasting backgrounds heighten the strong emotions at play and, luckily, after Sparkles reveals his "secret secret" about dancing ("Is the secret that you are not so great at ballet?" Ballet Cat asks concernedly. "That is not a very secret secret, Sparkles"), this friendship is undiminished. Ages 6-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 2--Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are great friends. One day, when choosing what to play, Sparkles picks making crafts. "Yay! Crafts!" says Ballet Cat, until she has second thoughts. She loves to leap and dance, and leaping with scissors is not a good idea. Then, Sparkles suggests checkers. "Yes! Checkers!" says Ballet Cat. But then she decides that their dance kicks might knock over the checkerboard. What about selling lemonade? "The lemonade will splash when we spin," says Ballet Cat. There seems to be only one activity that goes with leaping, kicking, and spinning. "We could play ballet," suggests Sparkles unenthusiastically. The problem is, they play ballet every day, and Ballet Cat is slow in noticing that Sparkles is not at all interested. Sparkles is acting glum and has a "secret secret," namely that he sometimes does not like ballet. He is afraid that revealing this fact will mean they are no longer best friends. But Ballet Cat has a secret of her own. There is something that she loves even more than ballet: Sparkles. In the last panel, they are happily playing checkers. This early reader has simple, vivacious cartoon artwork done in inks with digital enhancements. Shea's signature style and bright bold colors add to the fun. Although the text is somewhat sophisticated and the dialogue is entirely in word balloons, the humor and theme of friendship and sharing will have broad appeal beyond the beginning reader set. VERDICT Move over Elephant and Piggie!--Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes


*Shea's bold collages are as in-your-face charming as his energetic hero, whose exuberance and stubborn avoidance of the potty will elicit both empathy and laughter.—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Bob Shea

Bob Shea has written and illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, and is the author of Big Plans, illustrated by Lane Smith. His writing career began at Comedy Central, and his characters and animations have appeared on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, and PBS Kids.

Lane Smith is a four-time recipient of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book award and a two-time Caldecott Honor recipient, most recently for Grandpa Green. He is the author and illustrator of Abe Lincoln's Dream and It's a Book, which ahs been translated into over twenty languages, among many other books.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
May 20, 2015
Ballet Cat
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV043000 - Juvenile Fiction | Readers | Beginner
Library of Congress categories
Friendship in children
Best friends

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