Sunday, January 5, 2014


Todd Whitaker, Sam Miller, and Ryan Donlan. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2014

Join first year principal, "Roger Rookie" on his journey of discovery as he seeks the "secret solution" to becoming the leader of his school community. Along the way, you will recognize familiar characters (or more accurately, caricatures, as appropriate in the genre of fable) and perhaps even experience a sense of deja vu in the many situations portrayed both from his point of view and that of the supporting cast (teachers, secretaries, other administrators...).

I found myself feeling uncomfortable and even a little sorry for Roger as he made the mistakes common to enthusiastic, but inexperienced administrators - placing blame, avoiding difficult situations, failing to follow through with promises - but then rooting for him as he found his own way to a place of confidence and leadership.

Initially, the excellent cartoon illustrations (Eric Cleveland and Ryan Donlan) put me in mind of our students' favorite "Wimpy Kid" series, but almost immediately, I found them to be a key element to the book, pulling the story together with practical and easy to understand lists (from the late night ruminations of Mr Rookie). 

This is a quick read, and appropriate not only for potential administrators, but also for anyone wanting to take a simplified glimpse into the challenges of running a school. It also contains great advice for those hoping to make a difference, whether it is in an organization, a school, a classroom or even a committee, because the types of people Roger encounters are found in a group of any size.

Special thanks to Sam Miller for previewing the basic tenets of the "secret solution" with the Iowa Association of School Librarian/ABC-Clio Leadership Academy in June 2013 as the keynote speaker and for allowing me to be one of the first readers of the THE SECRET SOLUTION.

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