Hudson interweaves intrigue, magic, and adolescent drama to fashion an expertly woven and enchanting middle grade fantasy. Twelve-year-old Sophie is not happy about her family’s move to Mariposa from the big city. But more than that, it’s the fear of making new friends that weighs heavy on her adolescent mind. However, the self-assured Merle and confident Winnie are easy to like and the trio forms a solid bond of friendship. A chance discovery of an ancient Wishing Tree leads the friends to unleash its evil powers, and once happening town of Mariposa turns into a dreary, unfriendly place. The trio must figure out a way to reverse the tree’s curse. Hudson’s keen insights and understanding of adolescent psyche gives Sophie’s story an undeniable pull, and her emotionally charged narrative adeptly conveys her insecurities and fears. Following unpredictable plot points, the narrative both surprises and enchants. The intriguing native-American mythology, magic-infused atmosphere, and an elaborately gothic feel add to the intrigue. Plot twists leading to the trio’s discovery of the self and simultaneously paving the way to a neatly resolved conclusion are wholly authentic. Hudson’s expert handling of the complex themes of bullying, drug abuse, racism, influence of bad company, friendship, and unity makes this novella a must-buy for school library shelves.
Categories: middle grade