- The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby
Rushby, Allison The Mulberry Tree. Candlewick, 2020 [304p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781536207613 $19.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781536211870 $19.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
When Immy's family moves from Australia to a tiny English village, they find the perfect little cottage to rent, complete with a thatched roof and pretty garden. According to the townsfolk, however, the enormous but lifeless mulberry tree in the back stole two young girls on the eve of their eleventh birthday. Immy and her parents won't let some silly rumors deter them, even if Immy's eleventh birthday is coming up soon. Strange dreams and whispers at school put Immy on edge, but she's practical, searching for information around the missing girls but finding little besides confirmation of the disappearances. As her birthday approaches and her odd visions continue, Immy must find out what happened with that tree and those girls or she will fall prey to their fate. Well crafted and carefully paced, this manages to be appealingly tense and suspenseful while attending to serious emotional themes of forgiveness and responsibility. The legend of the tree and the missing kids offer obvious intrigue, but the heart of the story is Immy's relationship with her father, who has fallen into a depression after an accident back home. The eventual connection between the tragedy of the tree and the tragedy of that accident makes for a full circle completion to the story.