Isabel discovers an astonishing secret—one that has the power to change everything—about the old orchard next to her house.
Narrator Isabel, known as Isa to her family, is 12, solitary, and somewhat angry. Her parents are so consumed by her 6-year-old sister Junie’s battle with kidney cancer that they seem to have all but forgotten Isa, who feels invisible. And Isa misses the one person, Junie, who she has decided would be her only friend. Multiple moves (nine in her 12 years) have made Isa determined to protect herself from saying goodbye to friends when she is uprooted again. But now her family lives in a house, away from the city, for the first time. Melwick Orchard hadn’t produced apples in years when Isa’s family arrived, but an oddly behaved squirrel and a sapling that grows overnight into a luminous-barked, silvery-blue–leafed tree produce something special for Isa when she needs it most. Caprara’s principal characters—all seem to be white—are likable, and the worries of a family caught up in overwhelming circumstances are sympathetically portrayed. Junie is a precocious wordsmith, and Isa’s exuberant neighbor, Kira, becomes a friend to Isa just when she needs one. The magic in the orchard is low-key, charming, and convincing, and the happy ending, only partly dependent on magic, is equally believable.
Warmhearted and compelling. (Fantasy. 8-11)