I was fortunate to win a copy of this book on Literary Rambles awhile back. If you’re not familiar with Natalie Aguirre’s site, it is filled with great author and agent interviews and frequent giveaways. Take a look after reading my feedback on THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD.

Tmelwick orchard.jpghis tender tale is about girlhood, friendships, and a magical tree. It centers around the tough struggles of a family dealing with the realities of their youngest, Junie, who has cancer. Her older sister, Isa, narrates the story with heart tugging reality. The attention given to Junie, makes Isa feel invisible.

She longs for everything to return to normal, but Junie’s hospital stays gets longer and bills pile higher. Her mother’s depression also is a concern as is her father who seemingly forgets his daughter in more ways than one. The abandoned orchard behind their house give Isa hope in the form of a unique tree. It sprouts magic and maybe it might help their family.

The magic doesn’t overtake the story but provides a nice backdrop for the troubles that beset Isa and her family. She loves her sister and hasn’t let anyone else into her life until a new friendship slowly sprouts from a rather exuberant girl.

Although a bit long for emerging MG readers at 360+ pages and a bit sad, the ending is satisfying and wraps up all the plot points. Those who love realistic stories with a touch of magic will be hard pressed to find a better one.

The Official Plot (From Amazon)

After more moves than they can count, Isa’s family finally puts down roots. People in town are afraid of the abandoned orchard behind their home, but Isa and her sister Junie are happy to have acres of land to explore.

But when Junie gets sick, Isa’s mom falls into a depression, and medical bills force Isa’s dad to work more. No one notices that Isa’s clothes are falling apart and her stomach is empty.

Out of frustration, Isa buries her out-grown sneakers in the orchard. The next day a sapling sprouts buds that bloom to reveal new shoes. Can Isa use this magical tree to save her family?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From Rebecca’s website)

Rebecca Caprara is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her debut middle grade novel, THE MAGIC OF MELWICK ORCHARD was published in September 2018 by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group. Her next novel, WORST-CASE COLLIN will be published by Charlesbridge in 2020. 

Rebecca graduated from Cornell University and practiced architecture for several years, before shifting her focus from bricks to books. An avid globetrotter, she has traveled to over 50 countries, and has lived in Italy, Singapore, and Canada. She is now growing roots in Massachusetts with her family. 

Rebecca is also a classically trained ballet dancer, and continues to teach creative movement and storytelling to young students.

In 2017, she received the Marguerite Davol Picture Book Manuscript Scholarship, as well as the Jane Yolen Scholarship from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. 


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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  1. This sounds like an interesting story. Can’t help but wonder if the “magic” is what helps Isa cope/escape. I’ve read a number of books with heavy themes that have a tad of magic in them. It certainly is hard on siblings. Enjoyed your review.

  2. This sounds perfectly charming. I will add it to my looooong TBR list. We could all use a little magic. Thanks for the review.

  3. Rebecca Capraras book is amazing! She came and visited our school!

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