The Secret-Keeper, by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Heather M. Solomon (Atheneum Books, 2006, 24 pp)
The Secret-Keeper is a beautiful picture book that tells of Kalli, a young woman who lived by herself in the woods. The people of the town came to her, to tell her their secrets, and the words they spoke would take shape in her hands, and she would store away the things they had become in the many little drawers of her house. The secrets were sad, and bad, many small mean things (and some larger things), and surrounded by them all, Kalli grew sad and sick.
When the townsfolk found her lying alone, near death, at first they did not know what to do. Telling Kalli secrets was what they were used to, but they did not want to add to the weight of sadness she carried. So they began to tell other secrets, of love, and hope, and happiness, and these turned into beauty.
And then when Taln, the potter's son, told his own secret to Kalli, her happiness was complete.
This is the sort of picture book that is a lovely thing to give to an older child, one who can already read, but who has not yet grown dismissive of childish things. My nine-year old loved it. It is also the sort of picture book that will delight the grown-up who is not afraid to sniff a bit while reading a children's book (my husband and myself).
I know the author, Kate Coombs, as the blogger behind Book Aunt (where she currently has a lovely post up about witches), which is why I sought out this book.