Secret of the Heart

Wise Tales for a Happy Healthy Life

Children - Fable
116 Pages
Reviewed on 11/14/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

In Secret of the Heart: Wise Tales for a Happy Healthy Life by Michael Neer and Gwenna Merriman, we discover that “the heart has many secrets, and it IS a place you can go to.” Junah Cat is sent on a mission to find the secrets of the heart. He’s good at solving mysteries, but with such a riddle, this secret is quite confusing. The clue he’s given is that “The heart is like a garden. It’s a garden you can’t see, but it still needs tending.” How can he tend to something he can’t see? Junah Cat is even more confused than ever. With lots of purrs and the help of the three sisters with whom he lives and his special friends, old and new, Mo Mouse, Ginger Cat, Marty Mouse, and Oliver Owl, he hopes to find out. There are five special “heart patches” and Junah Cat is intent on finding and understanding them. All he has to do is listen to his heart and follow the purrs of wisdom, such as “pay attention to enjoy more,” to unravel this heartwarming mystery.

Michael Neer and Gwenna Merriman’s early chapter book, Secret of the Heart, is another inspiring story in the series. It is told in simple language to help young readers improve their reading skills. With exceptional black-and-white sketches to accompany the story, the plot develops at a steady pace as this adorable cat and his animal and human friends find a way to interact and solve the mystery together. Each chapter concludes with another inspiring purr, as Junah Cat’s words of wisdom help readers on their journey to finding the secrets of the heart. New friends are introduced, adding to Junah Cat’s growing ease with the community, working together, and caring for others. Like the classics, Tales of Peter Rabbit and many others, this will engage with, entertain, and educate young readers. Well done! Loved it!

Vincent Dublado

The third book in The Cat’s Purr Fables Series, Secret of the Heart: Wise Tales for a Happy Healthy Life by Michael Neer and Gwenna Merriman is a wonderful and purr-fect collection of tales starring Junah Cat. While Junah is just an ordinary cat whose color will remind you of a billiard’s eight-ball, he has fascinating exploits brought about by his extraordinary curiosity about everything. Sisters Laka, Sara, and Duma are the three wonderful humans that Junah lives with. The sisters give Junah a challenging yet enriching quest: find the secret of the heart. This perplexes Junah, for the heart is not a place that he can go to. The three sisters give him heart patches as well as a little rhyming song for clues. With the help of his animal friends, Junah will discover that the land of the heart is everywhere, and its secret is not as complicated as it seems.

Michael Neer picks up from where Aesop left off. He shares important life lessons by weaving tales that feature talking animals depicted as our equals. Whether you’re a cat person or not, you’ll find Junah’s adventure sweet and uplifting. Neer skillfully blends anthropomorphism and figurative language to elevate this fable’s striking message and reinforce the strong relationship with our feline friends. Worthy of mention are Gwen Merriman’s black and white illustrations that draw you into the images as if providing a front-seat look at Junah’s encounters during his quest. Secret of the Heart is a modern-day fable that is a must-have for all school libraries and a must-read for all book lovers whether you are young or young at heart.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Junah Cat and Mo Mouse lead an exciting life as the sisters, Sara, Duma, and Laka, frequently send them on various adventures. While they are adept at unveiling the secrets of the nearby forests, the sisters now urge them to solve a mystery much closer to home. Following the sisters’ clues, the duo has to unearth the secrets of the heart. To do so, they must utilize all their faculties, enlist the help of their friends, and overcome the obstacles that come their way. To discover whether they succeed in this unique quest, you should read Secret of the Heart: Wise Tales for a Happy Healthy Life, the third book in The Cat’s Purr Fables by Michael Neer.

The first aspect that attracted me was the adorable characters with catchy names. The bite-sized chapters and the fantastic illustrations by Gwenna Merriman will surely charm young readers. The expressions on the characters’ faces and their antics put a smile on my face. Life was never dull with these characters. I loved the various fun-filled adventures. I admired how they helped each other without expectation. Michael Neer included valuable lessons at the end of each chapter that teach the young audience to appreciate nature’s beauty, value the strength of friendship, and feel profound gratitude. Neer also added several interesting tidbits about the natural world, for example, the food chain, the flying pattern of hummingbirds, and the burrowing habits of hedgehogs. I believe these intriguing facts in Secret of the Heart will enrich the readers’ knowledge.

Pikasho Deka

Follow the adventures of an adorable cat in the third installment of Michael Neer's award-winning Cat's Purr Fable series, Secret of the Heart. Complemented by some striking illustrations by Gwenna Merriman, the book opens with the cute and curious black and white cat, Junah, who is enjoying his time in the garden when the three mysterious sisters, Laka, Sara, and Duma, once again offer him the adventure of a lifetime. The three sisters ask Junah to search for the secret of the heart and give him clues to help him complete the task. Accompanying Junah on the quest is his friend Maureen "Mo" Mouse, with whom Junah solves the clues one by one. Soon, he is joined by the Ginger Cat, who brings a new twist to their adventure.

Join Junah and his friends as he learns the ways of the heart with this fun-filled and wholesome children's picture book. Secret of the Heart contains some gentle messages to help kids grow into kind, compassionate, and caring individuals as adults. These include lessons on listening to one's feelings, how we all accomplish more together, how being generous and caring for others make us big-hearted beings, and many more. Author Michael Neer crafts some vibrant characters who leap off the pages with Gwenna Merriman's captivating illustrations and leave their mark on the reader. Each chapter contains a different adventure and ends with a unique lesson about the nature of our hearts. Apart from kids, Secret of the Heart should appeal to adults too.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Secret of the Heart: Wise Tales for a Happy Healthy Life is a children’s story by Michael Neer with illustrations by Gwenna Merriman. Junah Cat lives peacefully with three sisters who send him on adventures. For his next mission, instead of requesting a long journey, the sisters ask him to find the secret of the heart and insist that he can locate it without straying too far. Junah Cat accepts the quest and hurries off to find Mo Mouse, who has gone on adventures with him in the past. Together, the pair discovers truths that expand their knowledge about themselves and others and expand their hearts.

Secret of the Heart is not the first book that details the exploits of Junah Cat and Mo Mouse, but the story may be read as a stand-alone. The lesson, or moral, is displayed at the end of each chapter, reinforcing the most important points. Through those insights, readers can explore feelings and emotions while learning about nature. Michael Neer was an English teacher and it is evident in his writing as his words and their meaning are clear and thought-provoking without going beyond a child’s understanding. Children will love the beautiful illustrations by Gwenna Merriman, and the large text. Parents will be glad to offer their young readers a book that explores friendship, appreciation, and discovering oneself without the language and questionable situations portrayed in some books for older children. Children who are at a second-grade reading level could easily read and enjoy the book, but the story is entertaining enough to delight older children too!