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The Secret Language Paperback – September 13, 1972


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 13, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064400220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064400220
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Eight-year-old Victoria North is dreading boarding school, and it turns out to be worse than she expected. If her paralyzing homesickness weren't enough, a stern, whistle-blowing housemother and unforgiving schoolgirls unlock a faucet of tears that just keeps coming. Partly because Victoria hates the Coburn Home School so much, her quirky and opinionated classmate Martha Sherman takes a liking to the shy new girl. And that's when things start looking up. In Martha's world, the word for wonderful is "leebossa" and sickeningly sweet is "ick-en-spick." Midnight feasts are plotted behind closed doors, a fabulous secret hut springs from old scraps, and a hidden world of tiny dolls emerges in a dresser drawer. Victoria's homesickness and Martha's general obstreperousness gradually evaporate as their friendship cements. Acclaimed children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom adeptly captures the anxious, earnest, mysterious world of the young girl, the wondrous "secret language" of childhood friendships, and the quirky 8-year-old logic that makes lavender a girl color and orange a boy color. Young readers will delight in finding a book that's written just for them, and adults will appreciate a strangely vivid trip back in time. (Ages 8 to 11)

Review

This reissue in paperback of the only novel for young readers written by the legendary Harper children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom, is as fresh today as it was when first published in the 1960s. The story of an unhappy eight-year-old summarily shipped off to boarding school by a beleaguered mother, and of the friendship that she slowly forges with another student will strike a chord with many pre-adolescents - particularly girls. The Chalmers' illustrations in black and white are modest and just right. Parents' Choice Recommended. (Selma G. Lanes, Parents' Choice, 1998) -- From Parents' Choice®

Ursula Nordstrom's gentle, acutely observed picture of the boarding school world catches the essential fascination of that special community and at the same time, deals with certain problems common to any little girl adjusting to a new school. -- The New York Times

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Customer Reviews

It still holds the same magic, memories and sweet message.
Nancy M. Paschall
I think it is a wonderful story and one well worth reading time & again.
L O'Neil
I ordered this for my granddaughters, and now they love it.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nancy M. Paschall on May 20, 2000
Format: Library Binding
I read this book again as an adult after havng read it a million times as a child. It still holds the same magic, memories and sweet message. A great book for those times when you wish to go back to that special place in your heart reserved for childhood memories.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Travlee on June 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I cannot remember how many times I checked this book out at the school and public library when I was a girl! I loved the story of Victoria and Martha's friendship and their adventures at the boarding school I think some books just strike a chord in people and this one really did for me. I am thrilled to see that this book is still being published and look forward to buying it for my daughter.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Castleman on February 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is great for children! I read it to my 3rd grade class and they loved it. They talked about it for weeks. I recommend children to read this and for teachers to read it to their class!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L O'Neil on November 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book when I was about 8, from my school library, and have never forgotten it. When my girls were small, I scoured libraries and book stores for it, not remembering the title, but remembering about the secret language, the dresser drawer dolls and the secret hut, but never found it. I'm ordering it now that I've found it through the internet - I can't wait to read it again, & share it with my now grown-up girls & I plan to keep it this time - to read to my grandchildren! I think it is a wonderful story and one well worth reading time & again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By skminer@ssu.edu on January 27, 1999
Format: Turtleback
I recently decided to order myself a new copy of my threadbare favorite from my childhood. As a teacher of college literature, I have read so much, yet I consistently return to this simple favorite; such a dear story of friendship and fitting in. It is a pure gem for all ages.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Kleinman (ralphlisa@mindspring.com) on March 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
I loved this book as a child and reread it many times. Revisiting it with my son a few years ago, I was thrilled to see how well it held up. Best of all, he loved it too. This tale of two girls at boarding school is funny, poignant, and on target.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Sometimes you read a book when you are 8 (or 10) that never ever leaves you. You feel the characters understand you better than your best friend. You wish you could sit by the side of the pond they built, dress up as ice-cream cones and invent a secret language. I still have my copy of this book (a good 20 years later) and I reread it whenever I feel homesick for being 8 (or 10).

As the title suggests, there is a secret language. A lonely homesick girl at bording school invented it... and I still remember it. This book is Lee-lee-lee-leebossa. If you have an 8 or 10 year old girl in your life (or ever were one), get a copy of this book. It will make you wish you could sit in the sun-dappled shade by a pond to finish reading it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2000
Format: Library Binding
This book made such an impact on me as a young girl that here I am reviewing and trying to purchase this novel as an adult. The secret language between these young women allows them to realize they have found their kindred spirits. It taught me the value of freindship and how important it is as a child and as an adult. I highly recommend this book for parents with children who love to read. I only hope that when my children are of age they will love this book too.
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