The Mulberry Tree

The Mulberry Tree cover
 The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

by Allison Rushby

U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2020
304 pages

Ages 9-12

Immy and her parents have moved from Sydney, Australia, to a small town just outside Cambridge, England. Both Immy’s parents are doctors, and although they told her they’ve moved for her heart surgeon mom’s new job, Immy knows they also left Australia because of her dad’s depression: He’s been unable to work since an accident involving one of his former patients. They rent Lavender Cottage despite warnings that the gnarled, centuries-old mulberry tree in the backyard was responsible for the disappearance of two girls—one in the 18th century, one in 1945—on the eve of their 11th birthdays. To soon-to-turn 11 Immy, who is white, the tree does feel ominous, but neither she nor her parents believe the stories. Their new neighbor Jean is truly worried for Immy, however: It was her best childhood friend who disappeared in 1945. Almost everyone in town, it turns out, has beliefs and prejudices shaped by stories about the tree, and Immy is drawn into researching the missing girls and the mulberry tree’s history. At the same time, she’s trying to fit in at a new school, and struggling with feelings of frustration and anger at her dad’s inability to function. A novel that is tense and eerie is also compassionate and insightful as it weaves realism and the supernatural into a story where elements of the present parallel the past, and forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center