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It's a Secret!

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  325 ratings  ·  66 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
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture, younger
Marie Elaine wants to know where her cat, Malcolm, goes at night.
He can't tell her because it's a secret...

Nah, nevermind, he'll tell her! It's a party! An awesome cat party with dancing and a feast! Put on your party clothes, kid, and let's get going because there's along trek though dark alleys and past mean dogs and up fire escape. Woo, partay!

My favorite image was the one used for the cover, where the characters appear to be crayon cut-outs collaged onto a photo of a dark street. Most of
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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 ...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
Picked this up to read to the students today. I rather liked this one. The art is excellent!

A little girl wonders what cats do at night. She stays up to find out. Her cat is all decked out for a party. She promises to keep the location a secret if he will take her along. He agrees. Norman, the next door neighbor sees them slinking off. He threatens to tell if they don't take him with him. He ends up coming along.

Of course, they need to avoid the dogs.

They arrive at the party where the queen cat
Ziwei Cheng
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This story is talking about a cat bring a little to a party’s story. There has a cat called Malcolm. He lives in the Marie Elanie’s house. One day Marie came down to kitchen, she saw Malcolm dressed up in very fancy clothes and a hat. Marie asked him where he was going, Malcolm told him he was going to a secrete party. Marie put her party dress and got small. When they walked through the street more and more friends joined their team. Then, they all wanted to go to party with them. During this ...more
Aug 18, 2014 marked it as to-read
Promising to follow the fancy dress code and keep his whereabouts a secret forever, Marie-Elaine gets the opportunity to follow her well-dressed cat out on the town one night to see where he goes and what he does when the rest of the family is sound asleep.

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
Jenny Young
Aug 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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:
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
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. We really enjoyed reading this book together.
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture_books
This book put a big smile on my face. It gave me the warm fuzzies like reading an old Steig, Sendak or Ungerer book.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Marie Elaine follows her cat on a night escapade. Cool art. OK story.
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Michael Fitzgerald
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
John Burningham's animals get to do the neatest things!
Sunah Chung
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
The story intrigues children’s curiosity and imagination about their cats who disappear at night and come back to home in the morning. The author illuminates the curiosity in the story by holding a cat’s party at night. One night Marie Elaine witnesses her cat, Malcolm, in his fancy outfits, and she joins to the party with him. On their way to the party, Norman Kowalski, her neighbor, also joins the group. They enjoy the party, with cats and their queen and then go back home.

To be honest, I am
Jaynee Sant
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was so cute, I love cats! I have always wondered where my cats go to play when they go outside. This book is about Marie Elaine who wonders where her cat, Malcolm goes when he goes out each night. One night she goes with him and they are chased by dogs, go to a party, dance like in Aristacats, meet the Queen of Cats and return home by the morning.

The artwork in this book is very lively and full of splashes of color which adds to the excitement of what is happening to Marie Elaine and
Emily McKnight
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Summary: A young girl oh so curious about where he cat goes at night, finds herself in a mysterious and magical adventure on the run with her cat-in miniature form

Personal Response: This is such a fun and relatable book for people of all ages. Who isn't curious about what cats do at night-even all day?! This book is so creative and fun, and gives a great imaginative possibility to the question we are all asking.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
picture book for readalouds (1st grade through 4th?).
I haven't tried this with schoolgroups, but this is a good candidate for a book to read aloud to the older kids or a mixed aged-group (other librarians report success). I like the whimsical story a lot.
Renensia Smith
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book because of its great way of presenting Animal Fantasy. The cat demonstrated human-like actions, but he was able to still have his cat characteristics. The interactions between the human and the animals in the book was wonderfully done as well.
Jenna Mills
Fun enough
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens-je
"Where do cats go at night?"
Aug 19, 2011 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
Simon Joseph
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
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
Friend of Pixie (F.O.P.)
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.
Mary Train
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
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.
Jennie Park
Apr 07, 2011 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.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What can you say about John Burningham? He's a monkey genius. Details I love in this:
- the matter of fact way it treats the heroine getting small
- the way Malcolm looks when she first busts him all dressed up to leave
- the tough dogs in hoodies
It's just great. Ll likes this at 23 months but probably wouldn't have much before.
John Uebbing
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: edrd-314
It's a secret is about a girl and her cat who both go on an adventure. It starts with Marie Elaine wondering where her cat goes at night and eventually convincing her cat to let her go but he allows her to go if she "keeps it a secret". The book is entertaining and it can inspire kids to go on their own imaginary adventures whether it is with their cat or any other companion.
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.
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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
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