Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 16
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12 to 16
Sixteen-year-old Frederick has a lot of rules for himself. Like if someone calls him Freddy he doesn’t have to respond; he only wears shirts with buttons and he hates getting dirty. His odd behavior makes him an easy target for the “Despisers” at school, but he’s gotten used to eating lunch alone in the Reject Room.
Angel, in tenth grade but already at her sixth school, has always had a hard time making friends because her family moves around so much. Frederick is different from the other kids she’s met - he’s annoyingly smart, but refreshingly honest - and since he’s never had a real friend before, she decides to teach him all her rules of friendship.
But after Angel makes a rash decision and disappears, Frederick is called in for questioning by the police and is torn between telling the truth and keeping his friend’s secret. Her warning to him - don’t tell, don’t tell, don’t tell - might have done more harm than good.
About the author
Frederick’s character is developed with maximum attention to the nuances of Asperger’s Syndrome, and he is both likeable and complex.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
This compelling read explores the nuances of Asperger’s Syndrome through 16-year-old Frederick, whose odd behaviour makes him an easy target and renders him friendless at high school.
It was a fascinating look into someone else’s mind, and Frederick’s way of thinking gave me things to think about. The end. It was amazing.
Liane Shaw shines a spotlight on what living with Asperger's looks and feels like.... While this book tackles a number of teen issues including sexual assault and bullying, the story of Frederick and Angel is ultimately one of acceptance, a universal theme to which all students will be able to relate to.
A character-driven novel, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell is a compelling read because of Frederick and Angel’s unique sense of companionship, and their ability to be just what the other needs.
The National Reading Campaign
Shaw has ably captured two distinct voices... Despite [Frederick and Angel's] occasional irritation with each other, the two develop a genuine friendship that meets each one's separate needs and plays to each one's strengths. This could encourage a more sensitive approach to outsiders in school environments—or just shed light on the sometimes complicated dynamics of friendship.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Both [Don't Tell, Don't Tell, Don't Tell and Everyday Hero by Kathleen Cherry] are heavily character-driven, focusing on teens and the friendships they make, and both see their protagonists drawn into tenuous, even dangerous, situations. But the real commonality is the message: the peril of labelling and trying to make everyone fit one definition of normal. These two books evocatively give middle-schoolers and young adults the opportunity to open their minds to other possibilities.
Quill & Quire
The story of Frederick and Angel’s relationship is one of two misfits who find each other, tolerate each other, and even like each other. Their friendship is quite captivating... Frederick is anxious and relies on unambiguous routine; Angel is a delightful mixture of the in-your-face, self-reliant teenage girl and the lonely, ostracized, and insecure-about-her-body girl. Both teens experience bullying by a group of kids Frederick calls “Despisers”, and both find comfort in their unusual and even sometimes awkward friendship.
Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures
Shaw does an excellent job of giving us two lost and somewhat lonely individuals who benefit from their unusual companionship.... [Frederick and Angel] provide much-needed balance for each other and, in doing so, rewrite some of the rules around friendship, normality and acceptance.
Canadian Children's Book News
A consistently compelling novel by an imaginative and skilled storyteller, 'Don't Tell, Don't Tell, Don't Tell' is an especially recommended addition to high school and community library YA Fiction collections.
Midwest Book Review
Don't Tell, Don't Tell, Don't TellFrederick, a lonely teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Angel, a teenage girl struggling with her identity, are considered “outsiders” and “rejects” at school. Their relationship and the challenges they face will facilitate class conversations on the challenges of overcoming peer pressure, resilience, and the pressures of secret-keeping. This encourages reflection about what is ‘normal’ and the challenges of being ‘labelled’
Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Diversity Collection Selection 2017.