Clarence's Big Secret

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Member Reviews

This book spans the life of Clarence from childhood till he was 100 years old. It shows his work ethic and kindness, but Clarence has a secret throughout his life that only his wife knew about. After she passes away, he is the only one that knows. It was a sweet book about perseverance.
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This is a beautifully illustrated picture book about a real persons life, who didn't learn to read until he was in his 90s.

He kept quitting jobs, because he did not want to be exposed, and was able to hide his secret because of his wife.

And once he did learn to read, he went to classes, and read to them, and told them his story.

What a wonderful, inspiring story, that we are never too old to learn, and to learn how to read.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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This is a straightforward, nicely illustrated picture book that tells the story of Clarence Brazier. Born into a large family in Magnetawan in central Ontario in 1906,  in childhood Clarence did attend school—for one day. Because he was so big for his age, his teacher mistakenly assumed he was in the third grade. He was asked to stand and spell his name, but he couldn’t do it. He didn’t even know the alphabet yet! The sniggering of his fellow student deeply humiliated him, leaving an indelible mark. He fled the school, refusing to return. 

Even though he was illiterate for the greater part of his life, Clarence was remarkably accomplished, He worked in mines, in the woods, and on his own farm. The only person who knew his secret was his wife. She had handled all the literacy tasks in their 65-year marriage. After she died, Clarence set about teaching himself to read—using quite an ingenious method. However, it was in sharing his secret with another family member (his daughter, Doris) that his education really took off. Doris was a teacher, and her dad became her eldest student. In time Clarence was reading for two hours each day. He shared his inspirational story with many elementary school students during the last years of his life.

The book includes a couple of photographs of Clarence as well as a short but valuable authors’ note about the importance of reading and literacy.

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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Wow, what a fantastic book. The art is amazing and I love nonfiction children's books so naturally I loved this book. I enjoy the extra facts at the end as well. 5 out of 5.
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Clarence's Big Secret is based upon the life story of a real person.  Clarence was a smart and BIG young boy.  When he got to school, the teacher thought he was older than he was and asked him to do things that he had not yet learned.  He fled school and never returned. 

Clarence was clever and talented.  He went on to have a very productive life while keeping his big secret.  Find out what it was in this charming story which clearly shows that one is never too old to learn or overcome. 

The illustrations feel a bit old fashioned but in a good way.  They contribute to the story's atmosphere.

This was a lovely read.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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Clarence's Big Secret tells the story of Clarence Brazier, a man who didn't learn to read until he was almost 100 years old!

This is the type of picture book biography I really like. It tells the main events in the subject's life simply, without embellishment, allowing the facts to propel the story forward. There's a nice author's note at the back about literacy and education, and we also find out a little more about Clarence.

The illustrations are a lovely complement to the text, done in soft watercolours. I've encountered Mathilde Cinq-Mars's illustrations before, and while I wasn't previously that impressed with them, I thought they really worked well here.

Overall, this is a nice little biography that proves you're never too old to learn a new skill!
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I love the story of Clarence!  This is a wonderful book for adult literacy classes, book clubs, and children’s story hour.
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Such a wonderful, true story about the power of reading. Clarence did not learn to read until he was almost 100 years old. This book would be great for sparking discussions about how reading impacts our daily lives, and how you can learn something new at any age. A great story, with a positive message.
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In Clarence's Big Secret, Clarence is a boy that is big for his age. He is humiliated on the first day of first-grade when his teacher assumes that he is older and tells him to spell his name. Due to this humiliation, Clarence leaves   school and never returns. Clarence works on his father's farm, meets a girl and falls in love, and even begins a successful career all without knowing how to read. In fact, Clarence successfully keeps his secret from everybody, except his wife, for nearly a hundred years. Eventually, Clarence begins trying to teach himself how to read. One of his daughters discovers his secret and sets out to help him. After that, Clarence becomes a frequent reader and even visits schools to share his story with children.

I really appreciate that this book addresses illiteracy throughout adulthood. Illiteracy is something that many people are ashamed of and keep secret, however it is a more common issue than many people realize. Sharing this book with children, or even adults, will help bring awareness to the issue of illiteracy and hopefully ease the shame that some people feel due to being illiterate. The story and the illustrations portray Clarence as an intelligent, hard-working, and caring individual that just happens to struggle with reading. Although illiteracy is a major secret for Clarence, he is able to be successful in other areas. I think that readers will be able to identify with Clarence's struggles and his fear that his secret will be revealed. I recommend this book for school, classroom, and public libraries.

I received a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

#NetGalley #ClarencesBigSecret
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Clarence's Big Secret by Roy MacGregor, Christine MacGregor Cation, and Mathilde Cinq-Mars is a cute picture book biography of Clarence Edgar Brazier, a man who didn't learn to read until his nineties but who became a literacy advocate as a result.

Cinq-Mars's illustrations are incredibly sweet and cute, with soft colours, and it helps give the book a homey and nostalgic feeling that is incredibly pleasant to look at. The illustrations are probably the highlight of this book for me. 

The story itself may be an introductory picture book, but it is thorough, covering many of the events throughout Brazier's life. The story has a lot of nice messages about promoting literacy and being able to learn to read at any time. It really shows how important learning to read can be in a world where the written word is so prominent. I personally really enjoyed the author's note at the end that included literacy statistics.

I think my main issues with the book were probably not things that would bother everyone, but they bothered me. Clarence is ashamed of his inability to read, and I really didn't feel like there was anything in this story to suggest that he shouldn't feel ashamed, which depressed me. I also thought that some of the things that might have been considered acceptable during the time they would have happened were presented in a rather unquestioning way (for example, Clarence's coworkers wear tea towels as skirts so that they "can" dance the girl parts, or Clarence gives his daughters nicknames based on their weight or the fact that he always wanted a boy) that I think provide potentially questionable messages for the target age group.

Overall, Clarence's Big Secret is a cute read that serves as both a nice story and a solid introduction to literacy advocacy and the importance of learning to read despite the book's issues. I would definitely recommend it, but with the caveat that adults and children read it together to discuss the positive and negative aspects of the story.
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What I Loved:  This was a great children's non-fiction story written in a way that felt like a story to a child.  It was easy for my daughter to understand and she enjoyed the book.

How I Felt:  I loved the way the book started with Clarence as a young boy and progressed through his life.  It didn't move so fast that you felt like parts of his life were skipped, and it wasn't so slow that if felt like the story dragged.  The end of the book wraps up with the triumphant reading of a book to children by Clarence, and it was so nice to see that while, it took him many years, he put effort into something that he wanted and he learned to read. 

To Read or Not To Read:  This is a great book to provoke a literacy discussion with a child.  It's perfect for elementary school children.

What's This Book About Anyway?
Clarence kept a secret for almost his entire life (almost 100 years!).  Whenever there was a part of his life that may require him to read, he runs away, which is sad. He has missed so many opportunities.  However, he grows up and meets his wife and they have a family.  As he grows older, we see how happy he is.  Then, his wife passes away, and he doesn't know what to do.  She took care of any writing or reading that was required to run the house.  he decides to try to teach himself, and then enlists the help of his daughter.  

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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What an inspirational story! I have known people like him, and am sure there are many more, even in this day and age. I think this book  should be in every senior center, immigrant centers, and classrooms. So sad not knowing how to read, one misses so much.
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What a wonderful first biography for many children. Clarence is inspirational and shows children no matter the age you are still able to learn...anything! Absolutely charming!
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Very well illustrated and a interesting true life story. Good because it shows the importance of education and how lucky kids these days are to have it, even when they see it has bad. Good because it present how easy the world become now a days, an that can be a useful reminder for some. And good because it has a strong message of resilience, perseverance and achievement. Well done!
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