Stanley's Secret (Hardcover)

Stanley's Secret By John Sullivan, Zach Manbeck (Illustrator) Cover Image
By John Sullivan, Zach Manbeck (Illustrator)
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The award-winning author of Kitten and the Night Watchman is back with an inspiring and poignant picture book about a boy learning the self-confidence to fulfill his dream of dancing in front of his peers.

The only audience shy, quiet Stanley dances in front of is his pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles. He also practices when he’s alone in empty classrooms or the gym when he helps the janitor after school, tap dancing shuffle, tippy-tap, tippy-tap. “Talent should be shared,” encourages Principal Reynolds. Can Stanley find the courage to perform in the school talent show?

About the Author

John Sullivan received the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Margaret Wise Brown Prize for his debut picture book Kitten and the Night Watchman, also named a best book of the year by The Boston GlobeKirkus ReviewsPublishers Weekly, and BookPage. He is also the author of Ethan and the Strays and Stanley’s Secret. John is a cat lover and tap dancer who formerly worked as a night watchman. He lives in Chicago. Visit John at

Zach Manbeck is an author and illustrator living in Pennsylvania. As an artist, his work is described as modern vintage—nostalgic, yet fresh. As a creator, Zach aims to tell stories from new perspectives: stories that advocate for characters that haven’t yet had a chance to live in books. Learn more at

Praise For…

*"The text pays careful attention to the way Stanley addresses his nervousness  as he moves into his dream with grace. "
— -Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A vibrant story that encourages readers to follow their passions—and share them with the world."
— -Kirkus Reviews

Doing what you love can bring good things.

Intensely shy and quiet, Stanley, a round-faced Black child, buries himself in a book at parties, speaks softly, and sits alone while his classmates play at recess. Stanley desires nothing more than to tap-dance on stage for an audience, but he tells only his two pet mice, Squeaker and Nibbles. When he helps the janitor clean the building after school, he changes into his tap shoes and dances around with the broom when he thinks no one is watching. Principal Reynolds, a Black woman, summons him to her office and tells him she has seen him dancing and is shocked. Stunned that he has been spotted, Stanley apologizes. “Sorry?” she says. “You’re terrific!” She insists that he enter the upcoming school talent show. Over the next two weeks, he dances for his mice, the birds outside, and feral cats, attempting to conquer his shyness. He also plucks up the nerve to dance on the playground for Tom, a new, light-skinned friend, who encourages him heartily. Manbeck’s blues, greens, and oranges give the illustrations a retro appearance, and the scribbly textures convey a sense of whimsy throughout. Blues that represent Stanley’s quiet, shy nature turn to bright yellows as he overcomes his fear, speaks more boldly, and embraces his love of dance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A vibrant story that encourages readers to follow their passions—and share them with the world. (Picture book. 4-7)
— Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781534487833
ISBN-10: 1534487832
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication Date: January 24th, 2023
Pages: 48
Language: English