The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem

The Secret StaircaseAll the mice in Brambly Hedge are getting ready for their Midwinter celebration–decorating the Old Oak Palace, bringing in the (enormous) log to burn in the fireplace, and preparing the evening’s entertainment. Almost everyone is contributing something, and Wilfred and Primrose are meant to be performing a dramatic recitation. They need someplace quiet to practice, but the bustling palace is too busy and loud. When Primrose’s mother suggests that they try to find a place in the attic, the two young mice stumble across a hidden door to a forgotten part of the palace–a part that hasn’t been touched since the time of Primrose’s long-ago medieval mouse ancestors!

This book, which I have loved since childhood, is immensely appealing. Secret doors? Hidden rooms full of old toys and beautiful clothes? The delicious preparations for winter holidays? All calculated to captivate. The most captivating of all, however, are the illustrations. I know I’ve waxed rhapsodic in other blog posts, comparing more recent artists to Jill Barklem, but there is nothing like her delicate, detailed paintings. Each illustration is practically a look-and-find game: what’s on the shelves in the attic? What’s hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen? Can you see all the little rooms in the cut-away tree?

The Secret Staircase, interior illustration

The Secret Staircase will provide unending hours of delight, both in the sweet yet satisfying story, and the illustrations that any reader, child or adult, will pore over for hours.

Posted by: Sarah

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