The Mulberry Tree By Allison Rushby

After moving from Australia to a pocket-sized town in Cambridgeshire, England, 10 year old Immy, Mum and Dad were searching for a new home. Along with the help of a relocation woman, Helen, they look at many houses, the first, too dark and mouldy, the second to much like Star Trek, with everything blue, a third that was too neat, like the Dursleys, and the fourth was too small. The fifth was perfect, called lavender cottage, with a giant mulberry tree in the backyard, even with all the furniture! However, Helen didn’t even stop the car, and Immy had to yell at her to stop the car, to let them see it. Helen hadn’t stopped the car because of a story that was almost as old as the town. In this very house, many years ago, a little girl had gone missing on the eve of her 11th birthday. Then, many years later, another little girl went missing, from the same family. The day after each girl disappeared, a knot in the giant mulberry tree appeared the next morning. According to the townspeople, the mulberry tree had taken the girls. Of course, Immy and her parents don’t believe a word of it. But then, as her 11th birthday draws closer, Immy begins to hear a song in her head…

“The Mulberry Tree” is the perfect birthday present for any mystery lover, book enthusiast, or Allison Rushby addict (I’m all three!) Along with three of her other younger readers books, the Turnkey, the Three Keys and When This Bell Rings, it looks a treat on anyone 9+ years old bookshelf.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty follows the life story of a beautiful black horse that encounters many people and answers to many names. Born to a Mother that was their Masters pride, Black Beauty is determined to be good, so he lets himself be broken in and sold, meeting new friends such as Merrylegs and Ginger. Black Beauty learns about the horrors other horses have endured, working as a cart horse, taxi cab and many other hard, tedious jobs as well, sometimes with good, kind and gentle Masters that Black Beauty was happy to serve, and sometimes with mean and harsh masters. But no matter what, Black Beauty is always loyal and kind, no matter what.

I adored this heartfelt book, and although I don’t usually enjoy books from the first-person point of view as much, I found this novel to be right up there on my favorites list. I would recommend it to farm and horse lovers of 8 years old and over. I loved how Anna Sewell managed to make it feel like Black Beauty was standing next to me, telling me his life story, and when I turned the final page and closed the book, I was sorry for it all to have come to an end.

The Detectives Guide to Ocean Travel by Nicki Greenberg

Pepper Stark has always wanted one thing; to join her Father, the Captain, on his beautiful ship, the RMS Aquitania, voyaging to her diseased Mother’s birthplace, the bustling streets of New York City. Deprived of even seeing the majestic vessel, a frantic attempt to sneak on as third class results in Pepper getting a first-class ticket along with her Governess, Miss Quacken. With off-the-charts food and a celebrity dotted passenger list, Pepper’s voyage is as glamourous as expected. But when American singing-sensation Perida West loses the priceless saffron diamond, and her Fathers reputation is at stake, Pepper finds herself entangled in crime. Setting out to solve the cryptic mystery, Pepper and her new friends are determined. But recovering a stolen diamond on the Aquitania is not so easy, when everyone has something to hide. Her quest will lead to uncovering many well-buried secrets.

I absolutely adored this mystery story, with all it’s suspense and surprises. I lived how Nicki Greenberg managed to put just the right amount of everything in it, like a well-baked cake. I would give it a 5 out of 5 star recommendation for fans of Whimsy and Woe at the age of 10 and over. I can’t wait to see what Nicki comes up with next!

Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone

Casper Tock-an 11-year-old who is terrified of risks and deathly allergic to adventures and danger- keeps to his schedule and lists, perfectly contented with life in one of the Little Wallops turret with his Mother and Father, avoiding the spoilt, rich school bullies, Candia and Leonard and avoiding the hurricanes sweeping the land bare. As one of the least likely heroes in the world, it comes as an enormous shock when Casper is transported into the magical world of Rumblestar, where the weather is made and magical beasts live. Although all he wants is to go home and leave this strange, magical place forever, Rumblestar is in danger. The evil harpy Morg is trying to steal all the magic for herself, and Casper, along with the badly behaved girl Utterly Thankless and her baby dragon, Arlo, must set out on an adventure filled with cloud giants, neverlate trees and drizzle hags. Can the unlikely heroes save both worlds from Morg’s wrath?

This adventure book, with plenty of magic too, is a definite must-read! I loved all the plot twists and danger in it. A truly heartwarming story, I would give it a 5 out of 5 star rating and fully recommend it to children of 9 minimum who love stories of magic. I can’t wait to read the next book!

PAWS By Kate Foster

Eleven-year-old Alex Freeman is Autistic, and with going to high-school only months away, Alex is positive that having a friend by his side will help. So, he’s made a three-step, fool-proof, friend-making plan. Alex is sure nothing can possibly go wrong with it, until it does. being kicked out of his relay racing team for someone else, Alex’s heart is crushed. That is, until he see’s that PAWS, a famous TV show for dogs is coming to his town. If he wins one of the many sections, then surely he’ll get some friends! Now the only thing he has to do is train his furry friend and loyal companion Kevin the cockapoo and win himself a trophy.

I loved this book, with its obvious themes of friendship and hope. I enjoyed reading about how, even though he was making completely different plans, Alex managed to make a friend, what he was aiming for, although not in the way he planned. A truly heartwarming story, I would recommend it to children of 8+ who love dogs or are having problems finding their own friends.

Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23/22 Worries By Alexa Moses

Michaela is a city lover, fast foods and bustling streets, so when she and her mother spontaneously move to the countryside, Michaela hates everything about it. With a hyperactive human alarm system, she has been making lists ever since she could write, taking the worries out of her brain and putting it onto paper instead. Her secret, most important, big-boss of all her lists in her list of 23 worries. one of her top worries is having no friends, so as soon as she starts school, she sets of to make some. upon meeting Zoe, Annabelle-Rose and Skye, Michaela is positive that they are good friends, but is unsure about some of their habits, and even punishments. Will Michaela (rather reluctantly) find her feet in her new town and cross off another worry off her list? or will she be swept under by it all and live in misery?

Even though there were few plot twists and heart-stopping moments, I definitely enjoyed this book. With many hints of themes of overcoming fears, this book is perfect for children 10 years of age plus who are having trouble defeating their own, or who just enjoy reading about it. I would absolutely rate it 5 out of 5 stars and can’t wait to see what Alexa Moses comes up with next!