Tink’s Top Ten Stories of Secret Lives of (Sometimes) Crime by Karen Romano Young


Somebody asked me what books Tink liked.  Almost all, is the answer. Comics and graphics,  books about the Fibonacci series, biographies of Jackie Robinson and Harvey Milk and other people who fought for justice.  But most of all just regular novels, some so old her mother read them, some older, some new. And lately she is particularly inspired by people with secret lives, people who slide beneath the surface when they can, people who find ways to get away with things.  Sometimes these people are obviously criminals; other times they are people with bad reputations whose secret is the good or smart things they do. Mostly they’re books but Tink also adores movies so I included one because it’s just so Tink.  Plus a play, partly. The word secret comes up a lot.



peter-panPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie:

Obviously.  It’s the stuff of Tink’s boy fantasies — Peter, entering through a bedroom window, who uses fairy dust so Wendy and her younger siblings can fly away into the night.  Not only does Wendy have the magic required to sew Peter’s shadow on, without even knowing it, but she can fly — and when she gets to Neverland she’s queen because she’s a girl and that’s all that’s required.  Does she end up being babysitting slave? Pretty much.


secret gardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett :

Mary is ugly and obnoxious so everybody leaves her alone, and she discovers not one but two great boys and transforms the world. So why not?




the-long-secretThe Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh:

This is the sequel to Harriet the Spy.  Tink actually likes Harriet the Spy better, but no, she couldn’t be anything like Harriet.  Harriet may be brave and nervy but she doesn’t understand herself, while Tink is hopelessly self-aware.  She identifies more with Beth Ellen, and she is profoundly proud of her in The Long Secret. I can say no more without spoilers — except to say if you’ve read Harriet, don’t stop there.  Continue to The Long Secret, and to Sport, too, which despite being boy-heavy gives both Harriet and Beth Ellen a chance to shine.


mixed up filesThe Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg:

In which the well-behaved, brave, nervy, and striving Claudia escapes her boring life, with one of her younger siblings, and goes to live in the greatest place in the world.  If only this were real life! In fifth grade when Jackie and Tink read this book, they got Bess to take them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and they cased the joint to see what might be possible.  They figured the electric eyes must not have been installed in Claudia and Jamie’s day, or the jig would have been up instantaneously.  Still, it’s nice to think about and has inspired some of Tink’s fantasies about getting herself locked in places at night — including, most recently, the library. With Bushwhack. Now there’s a story to hide behind the radiator.


shakespeares-secretShakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach:

First of all, a girl named Hero.  How great is that? Why couldn’t Tink’s Mom and Dad have thought of that? Yes, it might cause problems, but sometimes your name can be your fate, and in this case it’s true for Hero. Only, cripes! Hero is named for a character in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, and she takes back a boy who has done something truly awful to her. Then again, in that play there’s this amazing mouthy person named Beatrice, who is in this book, too.  It’s just a really creative situation and Tink likes that. She also likes the straightforward discussion of what it’s like to try to be a human being at school.


wise-childWise Child by Monica Furlong:

Oh to be an orphan girl (with loads of siblings but none actually related) who gets plucked from obscurity by the local witch, Juniper, who turns out to live a beautiful, richly artistic life.  It’s not so much that Tink wants to be Wise Child, but that she wants to move in an live with Juniper and sleep in a bed under a wall painted by hand with gorgeous flowers.  This book makes Tink dream about the kind of house she wants, about how she’d like to spend her days — wandering over the moors looking for herbs and then using them to dye her wool and weave it into gorgeous clothing, eat fresh-baked bread, play music beautifully, and heal peasants who knock on her door. Plus if everybody thought she was a witch, they’d leave her alone.


witch-babyWitch Baby by Francesca Lia Block:

Tink read it because it’s Jackie’s favorite. It definitely shows the dark side of having siblings. Witch Baby, actually, sees the dark side in everything. And she has to search really hard to find the light part inside herself. Her heart breaks and breaks — and yet still she’s a really good drummer and roller skater, and Tink loves her even when she’s dreadful and mean because… well, Tink doesn’t exactly know why, she just does.


moonrise-kingdomMoonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson:

This is the movie. Have you seen it? Suzy has quite a life of crime, but she falls in love anyway and the boy loves her back and they run away together. It’s like Tink’s first story about Bushwhack, also hidden behind the radiator.  Suzy reads a lot and she’s a good singer and has good taste in music, and Tink hopes that now that she’s in love she’ll learn to do some more things, like the boy scout stuff her boyfriend knows, and maybe how to paint her own pictures instead of just modeling.  She identifies with Suzy because guess what:  younger siblings! Tink thinks she could be friends with Suzy; she could show Suzy how to fly under the radar a little better.


paper-thingsPaper Things by Jennifer Jacobson:

It’s not a crime to be homeless, but it feels like one to Ari. She’s got a sibling, but he’s older. An older brother would be wonderful, thinks Tink, especially one like Gage who just tries and tries and tries. . . actually it’s Gage that Tink truly identifies with: he’s always having to save the day for Ari. But she likes Ari’s paper furniture that she treasures and uses to imagine the house she’ll have sometime.


the-boyfriend-listThe Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart:

All these books. They are everything.  Jackie and Tink trade them back and forth and someday when they have access to somebody’s Apple TV and iTune with no restrictions they are going to watch Ruby’s whole list of movies.  In the meantime, they can dream of having a car and a wardrobe and a steady list of boys trundling through. Bliss. Plus: no siblings!


karen-romano-young-2Karen Romano Young has written nearly two dozen books for children, and has illustrated several, including the groundbreaking graphic novel, Doodlebug, and its sequel, Stuck in the Middle (of Middle School). She lives in Connecticut.

You can read an excerpt to Hundred Precent at: https://www.scribd.com/doc/315839063/Hundred-Percent-Excerpt#from_embed

You can find a Discussion Guide for Hundred Percent at: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/hundred_percent_discussion_guide.pdf