Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Paris on Repeat and The Mulberry Tree

Bearce, Amy. Paris on Repeat
July 14th 2020 by Jolly Fish Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Eve lives in Germany with her military family, and her 8th grade trip includes Paris. She's excited to go, and hang out with her best friend Reggie. She also has a plan to give a note to her crush, Jace, telling him how she feels. When the group goes up in the Eiffel Tower, Eve sees Jace and Reggie kissing in a secluded corner, and later that day the two put a lock on the Ponts de Art to cement their romance. Eve has been given the key to the lock by the somewhat creepy palm reader/shop owner, and takes the lock off the bridge. The next morning when Eve wakes up, it's the same day all over again! She doesn't know why or how, but she gets the same text from her mother, spills water on herself, etc. She decides to try to fix some of the things that went wrong in her day, but that doesn't go well. As she continues to repeat the day, she does manage to fix a few things, like not having her backpack stolen, and continues to hear from the palm reader that she needs to make changes to her life. Unfortunately, one of her changes makes Reggie really angry, and Reggie remembers the previous day when they wake up. Eve is dealing with a situation at home that she hasn't told anyone about, and she hasn't even kept Reggie in the loop about her feelings about Jace. As she repeats the day over and over, will she be able to figure out what she needs to fix in her life?
Strengths: If #MGLit authors gave up writing about class elections and school dances and wrote about class trips instead, I would support that 100%.  Even if readers don't get to go on a class trip, they are more fun to read about. And Paris! Eve's day was filled with just the right amount of sight seeing, drama, hanging out with friends, and angst, so repeating it again and working out the "bugs" never got dull. Having an unrequited crush in middle school is such a common experience, and I loved when Eve listed some of the other girls that Jace had gone out with; she was definitely keeping tabs. This was so painfully realistic. It was also helpful that this dealt with dealing with divorce rather than the death of a parent. (See statistics below.)
Weaknesses: I could have used a little more information about Eve's school in Germany, since it seems so exotic. A chapter where the kids are planning the trip and we learn about Eve's crush on Jace would have been great.
What I really think: Definitely buying a copy, and this will be hugely popular with my fans of Casey West and Jennifer E. Smith. It's definitely got that more YA kind of vibe, but absolutely gets the weird little space where 8th grade romances bloom. Perfect. I would have saved up my babysitting money to buy a copy of this one.

I would just like to point out these statistics so I have them in future, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/single-parent-census-data-2997668. Certainly in middle grade literature, the statistics with widowed single parents are MUCH higher. We do need more books with single mothers who have never been married.

"The assumption that "most" single mothers are single from the outset is false. Of the mothers who are custodial parents:

  • 40.6 percent are currently divorced or separated
  • 42.6 percent have never been married
  • 15.7 percent are married; in most cases, these numbers represent women who have remarried
  • 1.2 percent were widowed."

Rushby, Allison. The Mulberry Tree
July 14th 2020 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Immy and her mother and father are moving from Australia to Cambridge, England, where the mother has a position in a hospital. The father is not working, having had a problem with a patient back home that has spiraled him into depression. After looking at several rental properties in a nearby village that don't suit, Immy spies a quaint cottage that is just what they are looking for. The realtor doesn't want to show the family the place, because on two occasions, girls on the eve of their 11th birthday have disappeared from the home, supposedly taken by the mulberry tree in the back yard, and Immy is a month away from turning 11. Still, Immy is drawn to the place, and the family rents it, deciding to take a trip to Paris for Immy's birthday in order to be away from the house. The family settles in to their new routine, although Immy struggles to get along with the other girls in her grade, including the daughter of the owners of the home, who are renting it out precisely because they ARE afraid of the tree. Immy befriends Jean, an older neighbor whose friend Elizabeth went missing on VE Day in 1945. The two care for a family of hedgehogs that were found in the yard, and Immy connects with a gardening group at school, including an American boy who doesn't care about the legend of the tree. As Immy's birthday approaches, her mother further angers the community by planning a birthday party in the garden, and Immy struggles to understand not only what the tree has to say to her, but also how her father is dealing with his depression. Will Immy be able to figure out what the tree wants in time to prevent her own disappearance?
Strengths: This had a bit of a Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden (1958) feel to it, and I personally am ALWAYS glad to read a book set in a small English Village. The tree is gently spooky, and I can see a bookish nine year old really enjoying this tale. There's a good balance between family and school drama, history, gardening, and hoglets that I would have adored in third grade. The ending is quite a twist-- a bit hard to believe, but a very interesting use of Immy's power.
Weaknesses: Including more about Jean and Elizabeth's life in 1945 instead of the subplot with the father's depression would have made this more interesting to me.
What I really think: I may pass on purchase. My students seem to prefer violently murderous ghosts, and this author's The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery, which I enjoyed, does not circulate well.
Ms. Yingling


  1. Thank you for taking the time to read and review Paris on Repeat! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I keep hearing great things about Paris Repeat. I agree--I'd much rather read about class trips than dances, etc. I think the Mulberry Tree sounds lovely, especially the English village setting. Thanks for sharing your statistics. There are way too many dead parents in MG, which most kids are not going to relate too.