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The Secret Tree

The Secret Tree

4.8 27
by Natalie Standiford

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A sweet story of a tree that's literally filled with secrets.

What is your secret?

Minty's neighborhood is full of mysteries. There's the Witch House, a spooky old farmhouse on the other side of woods from where Minty and her best friend, Paz, live. There's the Man Bat, a seven-foot-tall half man, half bat who is rumored to fly through the woods. And there are


A sweet story of a tree that's literally filled with secrets.

What is your secret?

Minty's neighborhood is full of mysteries. There's the Witch House, a spooky old farmhouse on the other side of woods from where Minty and her best friend, Paz, live. There's the Man Bat, a seven-foot-tall half man, half bat who is rumored to fly through the woods. And there are the Mean Boys, David and Troy, who torment Minty for no reason, and her boy-crazy older sister, Thea, who acts weirder and weirder.

One day Minty spots a flash in the woods, and when she chases after it, she discovers a new mystery--a Secret Tree, with a hollow trunk that holds the secrets of everyone in the neighborhood. Secrets like:

I put a curse on my enemy. And it's working.

I'm betraying my best friend in a terrible way.

No one loves me except my goldfish.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Filled with summertime warmth and a neighborhood full of characters that readers will wish lived next door, Standiford’s (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters) story delights and satisfies. The summer before middle school, Minty and her best friend, Paz, plan to master some roller derby moves, annoy their older sisters, and stay away from the bothersome Mean Boys down the street. But then Minty discovers a secret in the nearby woods—a tree where her neighbors leave anonymous, heartfelt, and sometimes heart-wrenching secrets (“Im so stoopid. Im affraid something is rong with my brane,” reads one). Then Minty meets enigmatic Raymond, who has a connection to the “Witch Lady” who lives on the other side of the woods. Raymond knows about the mysterious tree, too, and he enlists Minty’s help to figure out who the tree’s secrets belong to. The intimate neighborhood setting—with its mysteries, superstitions, and traditions—the authenticity of Minty’s voice, and her worries about the transitioning nature of her life and friendships give Standiford’s story a richness that will stay with readers. Ages 9–12. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (May)
From the Publisher

Praise for How to Say Goodbye in Robot:

* "Bea's original first-person voice will draw readers in, and the unexpected plot will keep them engaged. A decidedly purposeful not-love story, this has all the makings of a cult hit with a flavor similar to Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "An honest and complex depiction of a meaningful platonic friendship and doesn't gloss over troubling issues....Teens will identify with the intense emotions of Beatrice and Jonas, the reasons they are drawn to each other, and the ups and downs of their relationship...Outstanding" - SLJ, starred review

"The heart of this novel is neither cold and metallic nor full of romance and delusion. Instead, it’s very human." - Booklist

Praise for Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters:

* "Readers will eagerly flip pages to hear the sins of the Sullivan sisters and love the tale each one spins. This book has a long shelf life ahead of it...Excellent" - SLJ, starred review

"Standiford makes reading about Baltimore high society and the flawed, pampered, but likable Sullivans feel like a wickedly guilty pleasure....Readers will wish that more family members had confessions to make." - PW

"Humor abounds in the inner workings of this interesting and unusual family." - Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
It's summertime; kids in Minty's neighborhood are enjoying the hot sun, orange popsicles, catching fireflies, and staying up late. On her birthday in August, Minty will be eleven, just ready to start sixth grade in middle school. She and her best friend Paz hope to start a junior team for the roller derby and show off in the Fourth of July parade. But the small town has its secrets, too, like rumors of a giant Man-Bat, a scary old "Witch House" on the other side of the woods, and as Minty discovers, a tree in the woods with a hole that attracts secrets on small pieces of paper. Mysteries deepen as friendships begin to shift, tensions escalate between sisters, and a strange boy named Raymond appears to be living in a half-built house near the spooky one. Though Minty's neighbors are friendly and close, she and Raymond form a team to spy on everyone as the secrets in the tree reveal unexpected anxieties and confessions. Minty's summer, described in her distinctive voice, evokes emotions readers will share: annoyance with disgusting boys, nervousness about a new school, obsession with friends, hurt at being left out, and intense curiosity about older siblings and adults. (It's nice to see that, contrary to many stories for kids this age, she and her older sister Thea have loving and concerned parents.) Minty's developing friendship with the mysterious Raymond is sensitively portrayed; though Raymond appears to be headed for disaster, between the two of them (with help from adults), the complex hopes and longings of all the neighbors are woven together into a very satisfying tapestry. By the end of summer, the disturbing revelations can be safely consumed by the still-mysterious Secret Tree. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—There's a tree in the woods near a quiet suburban Baltimore town; a tree with roots deep enough to house a ghost that feeds on secrets. And this town has enough secrets to keep the tree humming, and it plays a part in a fast-paced plot with intriguing characters. It's the summer before Minty Mortimer and her friend Paz Calderon start middle school. Until recently, the girls only wanted to be roller-derby skaters named Minty Fresh and Pax A. Punch. But now, secrets and a bit of magic are the catalyst for a summer of change for Minty and those who share their secrets with the tree-and even those who don't. After Paz starts hanging out with a group of cool girls, Minty becomes friends with Raymond, a runaway who lives in an abandoned model home. They spy on neighbors to solve secrets left in the tree; they believe in curses, and in the wisdom and auras seen only by Otis, a vendor who sells produce from a horse-drawn wagon. Themes of friendship, loneliness, family dysfunction, and even mental illness are presented in Minty's naïve, engaging narration. The plot contrivances-all ends well with generally everyone happy-are satisfying with an almost nostalgic feel for summers and communities of times past.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Middle-school dynamics, pesky sibling relations, a rumored haunted house, some truly heart-wrenching situations and a mystery all combine to make this coming-of-age novel an engrossing read. When 10-year-old Minty discovers a hollow tree in the woods that seems to be literally buzzing with secrets, actually finding a secret written on a scrap of paper stashed inside, it sets the stage for a slightly creepy, good old-fashioned mystery. Whose secret is this? What does it mean? Who is running around in the woods, taking pictures of neighbors? Solving these riddles only leads to more questions, and while Minty tries to figure out what's going on, she's also struggling with the fact that her best friend, Paz, seems to be growing up faster than she is. Minty acquires some secrets of her own, not least that she has befriended an apparently parentless kid, Raymond, who seems to live in an abandoned spec house and has some sort of relationship with the feared inhabitant of an old rundown place known as "the Witch House." Minty is a satisfying everygirl--just mischievous enough to seem real--and her interactions with Paz, their older teenage sisters and Paz's little sister Lennie and the "mean boys" from school recall universal coming-of-age experiences. The neat ending gratifies, with many of the issues having been resolved by the resourceful preteens themselves. (Mystery. 9-12)
The New York Times Book Review
The Secret Tree takes its rightful place in the now classic genre of "neighborhood kids" that began with Beverly Cleary…[it] harks back to the time when helicopter parents didn't exist and free-range children didn't return home until dusk…Yet The Secret Tree is also a very contemporary tale, one that deals with changing friendships, sibling relations, betrayal and neglectful parenting—while still imbuing childhood with a sense of mystery…One can envision more titles fleshing out the back stories of the other residents of Woodlawn Road…These children are far too real to let their captivating tales end here.
—Lisa Von Drasek

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
510L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Natalie Standiford is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS, and THE SECRET TREE. She is originally from Maryland, but now lives in New York City and plays in the all-YA-author band Tiger Beat.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Secret Tree 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books ever i say it is for nine year olds and up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!!!!!!!!! Anybody thats reading this review right now and thinking of getting this book to start reading, well you abousloutly should!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great find, and a very quick read. It starts out pretty slow, but as soon as i got a couple chapters ahead, i couldn't put it down untill it was one in the morning and i reached thd end. I would recomend this for ages 9-10+, but anybody with an adventurest mind will absolutely lpve this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is great. All of the charactors are very funny until the mean boys come along. Hooks you rite in the begining. I love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The secret tree is one of my top favorite books. With eerie details and mysterious events happening once at a time, your brain has a lot to handle! This book was like walking into an adventure, captivating you to like the book, because it sure did pull you in. I loved this book, and I think its good for any person, of any age. This book made me happy, and I used my money wisely by buying this book. Great job Natalie! (The author) please comment and say that my review was helpful! It would really mean a lot! Thanks ~~~T~~~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is one of the best books ive ever read!!!! it has a very good moral. the author is amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book sitting on my classroom bookshelf and read it. It would be awesome if this was a collection. THIS IS A CRAZY MUST READ AND IT WAS SO TOUCHING AND AWESOME PLEASE READ!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a great book! Me and my friends formed a book club and we used this. We all looovvveed it! It's full of mystery.
Sparklesrich1 More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was amazing!! I read it in third grade and I am now in fifth. This book was the perfect book and it had mystery but it wasn't all mystery so I thought that was really cool. I would recommend this book to third graders. I think that is the perfect age for this book. This book is also great for fourth graders or even fifth but I would say that fourth is probably the best grade/ age. I hope I helped people out with finding a just right book. Also, if you were looking at this book and wondering if you should get it I would totally say to get it! It is amazing:-] 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is soooooooo amazingly AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! BEST BOOK EVER
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is the best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cant wait till i get it. I will read it in my book club
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go read... but not a good re-read... better to rent it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She read it twice. It's about a girl named minty and across her house is a tree and suddenly her friend Pax.a.punch gets a really bad stomecace and in the tree she found a secret it said i'm putting a cures on somone and it;s working read the ret to find out!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book Talk by Anonymous: This is a very good book. Highly recamended by the nook nation. Now we will get the inside scoop on the new Magic Tree House book,Stallion by Starlight. ( To see " Book Talk" in the Stallion by Starlight news, check out the reviews for it when it comes out.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it and wish they would make it a series!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this book in real life... AND ITS AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the bokk read it twice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's great. I totally recamend reading it. If you don't you're missing out on a great book. I'm almost llike a book critic so you should read it. I only like some books, so it's most likely it's a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just wanna know
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I suggest reading this and if your a teacher YIU MUST READ THIS TO YOUR CLASS.
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