THE MULBERRY TREE, by Allison Rushby, Candlewick, July 14, 2020, Hardcover, $19.99 (ages 9-12)
A girl and her family find themselves on the wrong side of a creepy local legend in Allison Rushby’s The Mulberry Tree.
“Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.”
Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet.
Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their 11th birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head… —Synopsis provided by Candlewick
The Mulberry Tree is a goosebumps-inducing mystery that middle-graders will love. Author Allison Rushby does an excellent job of setting the tone, not only with the supernatural elements, but also with the very realistic ones. Her treatment of parental depression grounds the book, giving it a focus everyone can relate to.
Pacing is everything in The Mulberry Tree. Rushby’s prose ebbs and flows, pushing and pulling readers along just like the mulberry tree does with Immy. There’s brightness laced throughout that balances the spookier components.
Immy is a strong protagonist that middle graders will enjoy. I’d be happy to hand The Mulberry Tree to parents and kids alike.
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