It's a Secret!
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It's a Secret!

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  36 reviews
What if you were as small as your cat — and took off with him on a nighttime adventure? A gorgeously illustrated tale from the award-winning John Burningham.

Every night Marie-Elaine’s cat, Malcolm, goes out, and every morning he comes back in and sleeps. "Where do cats go at night?" the girl wonders. So when she sees him at his cat door dressed to the nines, she begs to co...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Candlewick Press
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Community Reviews

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If you ever wondered what your cat is doing at night when he leaves the comfort of your house, then this is the book for you. Marie Elaine is very curious about the life that her cat Malcolm leads when he scampers through the cat door each evening. One night when she comes down to the kitchen, she finds Malcolm dressed in a natty red coat and a hat with a feather. He says he's leaving to go to a party. Full of curiosity, Marie Elaine asks if she can come. Malcolm says she has to wear a party dre...more
Parry Rigney
I'm a big fan of John Burningham, and his newest is totally magical.

A little girl wonders where her cat goes at night...and one evening when she comes down from bed for a glass of milk she finds the cat, Malcolm, dressed in finery and all ready to go to a party. Malcolm agrees to let Marie Elaine come with (she has to get on her party dress and make herself "small" first). What follows is a fantastical account of a nighttime party with cats coming from far and wide, complete with the arrival of...more
Jenny Young
Grades K-4

fantasy fiction

Imagination; fantasy

The illustrations are created with mixed media.

Personal response:
The story is very fun and imaginative as the girl wonders why the cat sleeps all day and what it might possibly be doing at night. I enjoyed the illustrations because it looks so different from average book illustrations. The author and illustrator did a great job capturing the child-like essence of this book.

Curricular or programming connections:
This bo...more
This is another book that started out strong but then it kind of went nowhere really interesting. Props for a cool cover that made me want to look inside.
This book put a big smile on my face. It gave me the warm fuzzies like reading an old Steig, Sendak or Ungerer book.
Marie Elaine follows her cat on a night escapade. Cool art. OK story.
Aug 27, 2011 Ali added it
This book is a joy to read and one that is a classic witty tale written by John Burningham.
The author, John Burningham, has written in such an imaginative way with sketches and illustrations throughout the book which makes the story more interesting to read.
It is a tale full of imagination, fantasy and a great adventure to go with it!
Has anyone wondered where cats go at night? Well, Marie Elaine did. One night, little Marie Elaine came downstairs for a cold drink of water. Upon arrival, she is...more
Simon Joseph
It's a Secret has many of the qualities of John Burningham's best books: sublime illustrations, amusing characters, a slight air of mystery and a subtle sense of humour.

It charts the adventures of Marie Elaine and her cat Malcolm. Determined to find out what Malcolm gets up to at night, she goes on an adventure with him - and the boy next door, who blackmails them into taking him along too.

They go across town, up and down buildings and alleyways, and past some unsavoury characters (dogs in hood...more
where does the cat go at night? To a party in fancy clothes, of course! and the fact that the main character little girl has to "get small" to go with him... perfect. I just love this one.
Every night Marie-Elaine’s cat, Malcolm, goes out, & every morning he comes back in and sleeps. "Where do cats go at night?" the girl wonders. So when she sees him at his cat door dressed to the nines, she begs to come along. Amazingly, Malcolm agrees — as long as she puts on her fancy clothes, gets small, and keeps it all a secret. (Goodreads summary)

Pleasing fantasy that answers the age-old question: What do cats do at night? Great illustrations: I especially enjoy the thug dogs in hoodies...more
Very funny story about a girl wonders where her cat goes at night. One night, she's getting a drink from the fridge when she sees her cat by the door dressed up in fancy clothes and a hat. She asks him where he's going. "I'm going to a party, but I can't say where because it's a secret." She begs to go with him. "All right, but you can't come like that. You'll have to put on something that's right for a party." Adventure ensues. Wonderful sketchy illustrations and pithy dialog. Logan loved this....more
Jennie Park
Apr 07, 2011 Jennie Park added it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a creative story about a young girl named Marie Elaine who decides to follow her cat one night as he goes to a secret party. They end up on a rooftop where many cats gather to celebrate and have a party. I don't think it has a lot of depth for older elementary students to read (3rd through 5th grade) but is very appropriate for younger elementary students. It would be fun to do a writing extension where students write their own creative story about following their pet to a secret party.
Jennifer Bryant
A little girls wonders where her cat goes every night. She never sees it when it gets dark outside. One night she finds out. Her cat is dressed up and heading out of the house. The girl asks if she can come along. The cat says yes, but it is a secret. The two head out with the cat leading the way. On their walk a few friends come along. The girl finally discovers many cats meet up at night on a roof. They have a great time together. In the morning they have to go back home.
Mary Train
For some reason there seem to be a lot of new books about where animals go at night? A cosmic inspiration has struck! This version of where a cat goes at night is mixed for me...I find the illustrations interesting in their homage to the fine arts and some obvious masters, but the story, again, falls flat for me. I guess I'm a bit picky. The students were flat on this one too....nothing special for anyone, I guess.
Allison Melowsky
An adorable explanation as to where cats go at night, obviously to a cat rooftop party! I loved the illustrations in this tale, and my favorite part was the ending, when the mom discovers Marie-Elaine and Malcolm, stating that Marie-Elaine looked like she had been out with the cat all night! I definitely see this being a fun, independent read for elementary-aged children, or an introduction to fantasy books.
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really enjoyed the imaginative, dream-like qualities of the story. Unfortunately, the illustrations have a weird looseness to them that is sometimes fun and delightful and other times off-putting and sad. I really like the illustrator's idea behind the pictures but just find the shapes of the characters created occasionally unpleasant.
I wish that I could say that I loved this book by John Burningham but I just can't. I must say that the dogs in the hoodies scared my girls and they just didn't seem to get attached to the characters, the illustrations were strange but not in a good way, more of a disconnect than anything. The girls never asked me to read this one to them again.
Jess Brown
Where do cats go at night? It's a Secret! attempts to explain. I started off fairly interested, but the book really didn't hold my attention. It reads a bit like it wants to be Where the Wild Things Are but really doesn't come close. The illustrations were sort of neat. Elementary-aged kids are best for this one.
Karen Arendt
A story that brings to life what cats do at night. A girl and her neighbor ask to come along with her cat to see what he does at night and find out that he attends a party. The illustrations are cute, plain when the cat is home, but very colorful when the cat is out at his party.
Ashley Allen
I would use this book to get the students in my class thinking. I would use it to talk about what animals do at night when we are all sleeping. I would turn it into a writing or have the students each stand up and tell me what they think a certain animal does at night.
Ms. B
Have you ever wondered where cats go at night? Find out in this story about Marie Elaine and Norman who go on a magical adventure with Marie Elaine's cat, Malcolm. Fans of Uri Shulevitz or young readers who like cats will enjoy this story.
Nice style of illustration. Like the theme too (imagining what happens at night to your cat). Has some nice repetition in it that children will enjoy and sets the scene for discussing what your own pets get up to when you're asleep.
Amber Pangburn
This is about a cat who would go out late at night. The kids went along with the cat because they wanted to find out what he was doing. I would use this in class to show the studnets how to keep secerts about only fake situations.
Maureen Milton
A fine book exploring the question of where the cat goes at night, with Burningham's usual wit and wry illustrations. A fine companion to Laden's "The Night I Followed the Dog" and ________ (bunny at night).
Aug 03, 2009 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: 2009, childrens, english, pets
Where do cats go when they are out all night? This is a fun book with interesting illustrations - colored in sketches and some mixed media. It's an imaginative tale and a great book to read aloud.
Magical, the way I remember thinking about night as a child. Actually, the way I still think about night (I only pretend to be grown-up).
Children are curious about what their cat does at night so they decide to follow him. He leads them to a cat party.
Cute story, this would be a good book to share one on one. Too much text to use as a story time book.
A very charming picture book about a girl who follows her cat one night to discover where he goes.
My 3 year old is especially taken with this one. Every night, over and over. ;)
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Married to Helen Oxenbury They have one son and two daughters.

John Burningham was born in 1936 in Farnham, Surrey, and attended the alternative school, Summerhill. In 1954 he spent two years travelling through Italy, Yugoslavia and Israel, working at a variety of jobs.

From 1956-1959, he studied at the Central School of Art, after which he designed posters fo...more
More about John Burningham...
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