Secret Tree
by Standiford, Natalie

The author of How to Say Goodbye in Robot and Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters presents the endearing story of a mysterious tree on which young people place their written secrets and wishes with unexpected results.

Natalie Standiford is the author of HOW TO SAY GOOD-BYE IN ROBOT, CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS, THE SECRET TREE, and THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE. She is originally from Maryland, but now lives in New York City and plays in the all-YA-author band Tiger Beat.

Minty Fresh knows all the local superstitions: the seven-feet-tall Man-Bat, the Witch Lady, and Crazy Ike. But nothing prepares her for the Secret Tree. There she pulls out slips of paper on which other kids in town have written about crushes, being held back a grade, and even placing curses on their enemies. Minty makes it her mission to track down each writer to see how their secrets affect others-as well as how to handle her own secret fear that she is losing her best friend right before starting middle school. Universal anxieties about growing apart from friends are expressed with such earnest clarity that middle school-bound readers will take comfort from Minty's discovery that everyone has insecurities and must cope the best way they can. Standiford's (How to Say Goodbye in Robot, 2009) charming and mysterious story of friendship, growing up, and keeping secrets rests squarely on the shoulders of an immensely likable protagonist who possesses a delightful oddness, like so many imaginative children in real life. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Middle-school dynamics, pesky sibling relations, a rumored haunted house, some truly heart-wrenching situations and a mystery all combine to make this coming-of-age novel an engrossing read. When 10-year-old Minty discovers a hollow tree in the woods that seems to be literally buzzing with secrets, actually finding a secret written on a scrap of paper stashed inside, it sets the stage for a slightly creepy, good old-fashioned mystery. Whose secret is this? What does it mean? Who is running around in the woods, taking pictures of neighbors? Solving these riddles only leads to more questions, and while Minty tries to figure out what's going on, she's also struggling with the fact that her best friend, Paz, seems to be growing up faster than she is. Minty acquires some secrets of her own, not least that she has befriended an apparently parentless kid, Raymond, who seems to live in an abandoned spec house and has some sort of relationship with the feared inhabitant of an old rundown place known as "the Witch House." Minty is a satisfying everygirl-just mischievous enough to seem real-and her interactions with Paz, their older teenage sisters and Paz's little sister Lennie and the "mean boys" from school recall universal coming-of-age experiences. The neat ending gratifies, with many of the issues having been resolved by the resourceful preteens themselves. (Mystery. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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