The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby is mysterious, a little spooky and one of those books you can’t put down because you need to know how the story ends. 

When ten year old Immy and her parents move from Sydney, Australia to a small English village they shrug off the legend of the ancient and fierce-looking mulberry tree in the backyard of Lavendar Cottage that has cast fear over the village for years. The villagers believe the mulberry tree steals away girls living in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday and they superstitiously cross the road to avoid the mulberry tree and Immy’s family. Immy struggles to make friends at her new school, her dad is still not himself after an incident and life is not working out as well as her family had planned. 

When Immy starts hearing a mysterious rhyme in her head she is determined to find out what happened to the two missing girls. Immy researches the legend at the local library and has help from her elderly neighbour Jean whose best friend Elizabeth was the second girl to disappear in 1945. Tension rises as Immy’s eleventh birthday draws closer when she notices changes in the mulberry tree outside her window. The tree no longer looks angry, but rather tired and weak and even sad. Immy begins to feel sorry for the tree and wonders what could have caused the vicious marks on its trunk. “You can trust me” she told the tree. “I won’t hurt you.” 

Can brave Immy solve the mystery of the mulberry tree before she too disappears on her eleventh birthday?

Happy reading!

Teacher notes

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh

Maybe that’s the main reason Mr Humble picked me. I was a natural born loser, a nobody, but I was a nobody who believed in Barryjong. Now I’ve become somebody worth following. (Raymond) 

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh is one of my favourite books of the year! 

There is so much heart in this story and after reading this interview with Oliver, you can see how his experiences as a student and teacher have played a big part in helping him write Natural Born Loser.

Not everyone wants to be a leader out the front and in the lime light, certainly not Raymond Bulanghagui. He sees himself as a follower and prefers to blend into the background, particularly around bullies. That is until the new principal, Mr Humble arrives and wants to turn Barryjong school around so it’s no longer a joke amongst other schools and a breeding ground for bullies. Raymond’s life changes when his best mate Zain dares him to ‘audition’ for a prefect position. No one is more shocked than Raymond when he is chosen alongside Zain, Randa and Ally who all seem to have more to offer than he does. However, Mr Humble has seen something in Raymond and gives him a chance to step up and be a leader.

The four prefects don’t have an easy job ahead with bullymons like Russell Carney (Carn-age) and his cronies ready to bring them down at any opportunity. When Raymond dares himself to speak up at assembly and suggests they raise money for new air conditioners all of a sudden he goes from being a nobody to the students supporting him. I’m sure you too will be cheering on the four prefects as they learn to combine their talents and work together as a leadership team to raise their goal of $20,000. Their crazy fundraising challenges are fun for students, teachers and parents alike, especially the brilliant Dareathon! The fundraising culminates in an exciting Footy Fan Day and there’s one final surprise from Mr Humble for the four prefects, who along the way have united the Barryjong Primary School community and turned it into a ‘cool’ school in more ways than one.

There’s no stopping ‘Barryjong United’ now!

Happy reading and thinking up fun dares for a Dareathon!

Teacher notes