cover image The Mulberry Tree

The Mulberry Tree

Allison Rushby. Candlewick, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-536-20761-3

Lavender Cottage seems like the perfect place for 10-year-old Immy and her parents to rebuild their lives after moving to England from Australia, where a tragic incident with a patient overwhelmed her physician father with guilt. But their fresh start is complicated by the huge, ancient mulberry tree in the back garden. Local legend blames it for the disappearance of two village girls on the eves of their 11th birthdays, and Immy’s new classmates become angry when her depressed father scoffs at these superstitions. Haunted by a nursery rhyme only she can hear, Immy feels strangely drawn to the tree, but as her own 11th birthday draws near, she begins to sense sadness and rage emanating from it and vows to understand its history— and that of the missing girls—even as she confronts her own anger at her father. Though recapitulations of its main themes, particularly the power of forgiveness, can feel repetitive, Rushby’s eerie tale should suit younger middle grade horror fans; the plot moves quickly, and the lightly creepy atmosphere remains spooky without becoming threatening. Ages 9–12. [em](July) [/em]