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An instant New York Times bestseller!

Travel through time with National Book Award Finalist Kekla Magoon in a page-turning fantasy adventure about family secrets and finding the courage to plot your own life story.

Since Grandpa died, Dally’s days are dull and restricted. She’s eleven and a half years old, and her exacting single mother is already preparing her to take over the family business. Starved for adventure and release, Dally rescues a mysterious envelope from her mother’s clutches, an envelope Grandpa had earmarked for her. The map she finds inside leads straight to an ancient vault, a library of secrets where each book is a portal to a precise moment in time. As Dally “checks out” adventure after adventure—including an exhilarating outing with pirates—she begins to dive deep into her family’s hidden history. Soon she’s visiting every day to escape the demands of the present. But the library has secrets of its own, intentions that would shape her life as surely as her mother’s meticulous plans. What will Dally choose? Equal parts mystery and adventure—with a biracial child puzzling out her identity alongside the legacy of the past—this masterful middle-grade fantasy rivets with crackling prose, playful plot twists, and timeless themes. A satisfying choice for fans of Kindred and When You Reach Me.

About the Author

Kekla Magoon is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Secret Library and many other fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers, including X: A Novel, cowritten with Ilyasah Shabazz; the Blue Stars series, cowritten with Cynthia Leitich Smith and illustrated by Molly Murakami; and Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People. She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, an NAACP Image Award, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and four Coretta Scott King Honors, among others. Kekla Magoon lives in Montpelier, Vermont, and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Praise For…

Magoon (Chester Keene Cracks the Code) champions self-determination while examining race and gender constructs in this high-spirited, South Carolina–set fantasy. . . . Whimsical worldbuilding, swashbuckling action, and buoyant third-person narration complement Magoon’s vibrant character portraits and twisty, nuanced plot.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Multiple award-winner Magoon has crafted an engrossing story that skillfully combines a coming-of-age story with fantasy and historical fiction. Dally is an irresistible protagonist, full of curiosity and longing for the joy she experienced with her grandfather. The lively, well-written narrative contains many surprises, pulling readers into Dally’s life and the incredible choices she must make. A deeply satisfying, page-turning, genre-defying read.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

National Book Award Finalist Kekla Magoon’s The Secret Library is a spellbinding tale of self-determination and family history. . . . The book handles substantial concepts in an effortless manner. It introduces the emotional overwhelm that accompanies grief and racial identity, and its depictions of racial and gender constructs are nuanced. Dally’s biracial identity (Black and white) is configured through modern context and the ancestral past—a Kindred-esque approach to examining the stolen history of Black Americans. Smatterings of black-and-white art reinforce the whimsical nature of this masterpiece. The Secret Library is a gratifying, adventure-filled novel that’s sure to stand out in middle grade collections.
—Foreword Reviews (starred review)

Magoon’s novel is like the very best of children’s fantasy literature, in that for all its whimsy and magic, it also carries something almost ineffably, crucially human: what it is to be alive, what it is to grow up. In that way, Magoon has more than earned her place on the shelf of life-changing, classic children’s fantasy novels.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

The nonlinear plot takes place across varied periods in time, propelling readers into situations involving friendships, family, slavery, pirating, theft, colorism, LGBTQIA+ profiles, gender discussions, and the pure joy of spending time with someone gone eternally. Humor breaks up the heavier topics, and the character duo of Dally and fellow traveler Jack is particularly endearing. . . . Magical and reflective.
—School Library Journal

The story is full of clever touches, including the librarian’s responsibility to clothe Dally appropriately for each time-travel destination. Her adventures aboard a nineteenth-century treasure-hunting pirate ship are particularly exciting. . . a memorable, original concept within an involving novel.

An engaging adventure, brimming with mysteries, chock-full of history, and full of twists you’ll never see coming. Once you step into The Secret Library, you’ll never want to leave.
—Christina Soontornvat, three-time Newbery Honoree

This great read is a real page-turner and will especially appeal to readers who love family stories and readers who (like me) like their fantasy to be quite grounded in reality. An absolutely smashing read that everyone should pick up this summer!
—Teen Librarian Toolbox, School Library Journal

Kekla Magoon. . . had me at 'secret library.'

Magoon adeptly and naturally weaves issues of race, class, and gender into a creative fantasy adventure. Readers will enjoy time-traveling with Dally and learning her family secrets.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781536230888
ISBN-10: 153623088X
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English