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The Secret History of Tom Trueheart Hardcover – February 6, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Tom Trueheart Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—This well-known British illustrator's first novel is a charming twist on fairy tales. The Trueheart clan lives near the Land of Stories, once upon a time, long ago. Tom is the youngest of seven boys, and his brothers (all named Jack) have carried on the family tradition of being adventurers-that is, stepping into a story and carrying out the dashing exploits that eventually become legend. On Tom's 12th birthday, he discovers that his brothers are missing, feared to have been captured by a sinister individual who wants to put an end to Stories forever, and it is up to the young lad to discover their fates and prevent the demise of the Land. Readers meet many familiar characters, as the brothers' interrupted adventures involve Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, to name a few. The two-dimensionality of most of the characters complements the fairy-tale feel, and silhouette drawings interspersed throughout add a wonderfully nostalgic touch. Readers will relate to Tom as he overcomes fears that he will not live up to his brothers' reputations for bravery. The story gets off to a slow start, and the length may deter some children, but those who stick with it will be rewarded with a refreshing and humorous take on traditional fairy tales. Beck's ending suggests that a sequel is forthcoming.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


`a delightful book, and one with a wide potential audience . . . a story with a timeless quality and great charm for bedtime reading upwards.' Marcus Sedgwick, the Literary Review

`This handsome little book with striking silhouette illustrations, contains a wonderful story.' Julia Eccleshare, lovereadingforkids.com

`Tom's quest to discover his own story and his courage, unrolls through an elegantly described magical landscape, in this skilful, highly inventive story about the way stories work.' Booktrust

`looks likely to become one of the hits of 2006' Amanda Craig, The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow; First Edition edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061152102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061152108
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,384,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Hiller VINE VOICE on February 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
.... your students and children are going to LOVE this story, as will you!

The Secret History of Tom Trueheart, written by Ian Beck, is a wonderful mythical adventure about a boy named Tom, overshadowed by his "courageous" older brothers, trying to find his place in his family as well as his world. Tom lives in the darkness, most haunted by his internal fear that he doesn't have the requisite courage that all of his older brother's profess. When it comes time for him to test that fear, Tom's true colors shine through, and the adventure that ensues is a wonderful romp through the world of familiar fairy tales.

Beck has managed to meld an entirely original story with the world of well-established tales, and that is the delightful discovery of this story. As you read this with your kids, much discussion can easily ensue, both about the plot and what my happen next, as well as the deeper issues of believing in one-self, making the right choices, and ultimiately, what path you might take in life.

A relatively quick, easy read, this story will lend itself easily to read-alouds, with its delightful use of language, quick prose, and engaging content. Beck seems to have set himself up for a sequel towards the end (no spoilers here!), but suffice it to say, this does lend itself to one.

Ever wish you could take your class or your children to a new world of make-believe? Look no further. I highly recommend "The Secret History of Tom Trueheart". Once you pick it up, you won't put it down until you turn that last page!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book because it was reviewed in the Washington Post this spring and I wanted to see if it would be good & appropriate for my children. There was nothing inappropriate, but I don't know that they will find it terribly interesting. I also wasn't crazy about the ending. It is obviously written to have a sequel. I prefer books that stand alone as written, even if a sequel is sometime written.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son really enjoyed this book, and wants to read the rest of the series. He's pretty picky about what books he will read outside of the typical pokemon, star wars type books, so I was happy that he was enjoying another genre of fiction book.
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Format: Hardcover
In the Land of Stories, the Trueheart men are famous for their heroic, exciting and sometimes romantic antics. They carry on a family tradition started by their brave and well-known father, Jack. Trueheart senior is heralded throughout the land as a great adventurer. But since his mysterious disappearance, his boys have taken over the tasks assigned by the Story Bureau and the Guild of Stories to finish the tales devised by Guild members. The Trueheart sons, appropriately named some form of Jack after their beloved father, each receive letters from the Bureau with directions and clues to an adventure they are to undertake.

When none of Tom's big brothers come home from their assignments in time to celebrate his 12th birthday, the Bureau sends Tom his first letter telling him to go and search for the missing men. But young Tom doesn't know if he's ready for such an important and scary mission. According to his brothers, the Land of Stories is filled with many wondrous, strange and dangerous characters. But family tradition says that a Trueheart always answers the call of the adventure "With a true heart."

The Story Bureau is responsible for creating the beginnings of all the stories in the Land of Stories. Guild of Stories members invent the initial ideas, set up the scenes and charge the Truehearts with finishing the stories and reporting back to the Bureau when they are complete. Six stories are incomplete because the six Trueheart brothers cannot be found, and one Guild member and story devisor, Brother Julius Ormestone, is suspiciously absent from the Bureau as well. When the Bureau directs Tom to find his brothers so they can finish their stories, they hope that the boy won't have to deal with the sinister Ormestone.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written, imaginative and enjoyable take on classic fairy tales. Too often these modern retellings or recyclings are too cynical, satirical or humor-obsessed to go very far. But this book impressed me in that it retained much of the beauty, adventure and moral dignity of the fairy tale genre even while it did include a bit of the contemporary itch for tongue-in-cheek humor. The difference was that the author was self-disciplined and wise enough to not turn his whole work into some kind of "fractured fairy tale," but rather kept his focus on telling a good story.

Tom Trueheart is an endearing hero who demonstrates courage, loyalty and persistence. The male characters are endowed with refreshingly masculine qualities while Tom's mother and the various beautiful princesses are equally feminine in their virtues and charms.

Finally, the premise of the book, a land of stories where new tales are created through a combination of definite rules and structure with free and creative choices, suggested a deeper level of thought behind the plot and action. I was quite impressed with this contemporary fantasy.
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