Mia's Secret


24 pages
ISBN 0-88776-801-6
DDC jC813'.6





Illustrations by Marilyn Mets and Peter Ledwon
Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings, a former elementary-school teacher-librarian with the
Durham Board of Education, is an educational consultant.


Mia’s Secret is the story of a little girl who is sexually abused by a
male friend of her mother.

In the beginning the “friend” gains Mia’s (and her mother’s)
trust by showering her with attention. He talks to her, listens to her,
plays games with her. Only when Mia feels comfortable enough to confide
in him does he introduce the special game. Of course, this game must be
kept secret. Only Mia’s teddy, Tikki, can know. Though Mia doesn’t
like this new game, she is anxious to please and accedes. As the abuse
escalates, bribes and then threats become necessary to ensure Mia’s
compliance. Frightened and confused, Mia is afraid to break her promise.
Then she remembers: Tikki has seen everything. Tikki can tell.

We are not certain how Mia’s mother reacts when she learns of the
abuse or what action she takes. The fact that she has been worried about
Mia, leans over to listen to Tikki (and Mia), and hugs them close
afterward makes us confident that from then on Mia will be protected.

Peter Ledwon tells Mia’s story with a great deal of sensitivity,
using simple language that expresses Mia’s confusion and fear most
effectively. The illustrations by Ledwon and Marilyn Mets support and
expand the text. Mia’s doll-like features and large eyes convey her
fragility and vulnerability. The exaggerated size of the man’s hand as
he grasps Mia’s slender arm is particularly chilling.

Parents, caregivers, and professionals will find Mia’s Secret a
valuable resource to use as a preventative measure or to provide
reassurance to children who have experienced abuse. The book is endorsed
by The Gatehouse, a Child Abuse Investigation and Support Site; a
portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to this
organization. Highly recommended.


Ledwon, Peter., “Mia's Secret,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/23481.