The Secrets of Tree Taylor [NOOK Book]


Thirteen-year-old Tree Taylor has two goals for the summer of '63:
 1. Experience her first real kiss. A kiss delivered by a boy. A boy who is not related to her. A kiss worth writing about. 
2. Become a famous writer. (Or, at least, write an investigative article that will land her the freshman spot on the Blue and Gold ...
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The Secrets of Tree Taylor

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Thirteen-year-old Tree Taylor has two goals for the summer of '63:
 1. Experience her first real kiss. A kiss delivered by a boy. A boy who is not related to her. A kiss worth writing about. 
2. Become a famous writer. (Or, at least, write an investigative article that will land her the freshman spot on the Blue and Gold staff.)

So when a gunshot is fired right across the street, Tree knows this is the big story she's been waiting for. But the more she goes digging, the more secrets she uncovers, and soon she begins to wonder: When is it important to expose the truth? And when is it right to keep a secret?

“A simple story with surprising depth in its examination of truth and compassion.” —Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—It's 1963 and Tree Taylor has two goals for the summer before her freshman year of high school: to write an article that will earn her a spot on the school newspaper and to have her first kiss. When a shooting takes place in the 13-year-old's sleepy Missouri town, she sees it as an opportunity to showcase her journalism skills. As Tree begins to investigate the supposed accident, she befriends the woman involved. Tree soon finds that the knowledge of anyone's secrets comes coupled with the burden of dealing with them responsibly. Though Tree and her friends spend long days at the local swimming pool and nights dancing under the stars, Mackall also weaves in the era's tumultuous history, such as the U.S.'s presence in the Vietnam War. The protagonist grapples with the fact that the media is an authority of truth on issues at home and abroad, how "words in print became truth for readers—even if the press got it wrong," and whether some stories are best left unpublished. This novel would be a good discussion starter about ethics in journalism; budding reporters will especially appreciate the likable teen's passion and the quotes from famous writers interspersed throughout.—Amanda Mastrull, School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
In rural 1960s Missouri, 13-year-old aspiring journalist Tree is looking for a story to write to earn a spot on her school newspaper when a man is shot on her street. Her father, the town doctor, calls it an accident, but Tree saw Mrs. Kinney, the victim's wife, holding the shotgun and has a feeling that "there was a big story in this shooting." Tree begins gathering information about the Kinneys' miserable lives, but when she begins to befriend the obviously abused Mrs. Kinney, she wonders, "How can I tell which secrets to leave alone and which not to?" Mackall (The Silence of Murder) provides a rich sense of time and place: Tree's father gets in a heated argument with a family friend over the impending Vietnam War, and Tree's new friend Penny is passionately against segregation. Tree's unlikely friendship with Mrs. Kinney comes across as contrived, as do the mysterious quotes that Tree keeps finding, but conversations with her wise father and her friend Jack help create a thoughtful coming-of-age story about a girl learning to see beyond black and white. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (May)
From the Publisher
"A thoughtful coming-of-age story about a girl learning to see beyond black and white." —Publishers Weekly

"A simple story with surprising depth in its examination of truth and compassion." —Kirkus Reviews

"Refreshing and engaging. . . . A delightful read from beginning to end." —VOYA

VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Susan Allen
The title The Secrets Of Tree Taylor should really read, Other People’s Secrets That Tree Knows. This is the main theme of a coming-of-age novel that is refreshing and engaging, and offers a solid bird’s-eye view of the early 1960s. Fourteen-year-old Tree Taylor lives with her doctor father, nurse mother, and older sister in small-town USA. It is the summer of 1963 and Tree’s two goals for the summer are: to write an investigative article that will get her appointed to the school newspaper, and to be kissed by a boy. In the background of the idyllic summer days are murmurs of secrets that belong to others but that Tree thinks she might need to find out and write about. There is her neighbor whose husband is shot in the shoulder, and Tree saw Mrs. Kinney with the gun. There is Penny, quiet as a mouse, who loves to read and talk about books with Tree, except when she gets weird when Tree’s step-brother shows up. There is Tree’s father who decries the war in Vietnam and seems to know more peoples’ secrets than anyone person should. Tree is surrounded by well-developed characters, totally believable for any decade. She works at the town swimming pool, dances often, and moons over Ray. The book is a delightful read from beginning to end and addresses how a person is supposed to handle knowing the secrets of others. Reviewer: Susan Allen; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
In Mackall's first-person coming-of-age narrative, an aspiring young writer wrestles with the difference between facts and many-layered truths, learning the role of compassion in deciding which secrets need to be shared and which are not hers to tell. Tree Taylor has two goals during the summer after eighth grade: write an article that will win her the freshman spot on her high school's newspaper and taste her first kiss. When she witnesses her neighbor holding a rifle, her husband shot, Tree thinks she has her story. As she investigates, she uncovers a long history not only of domestic abuse, but also of coverups—even by her pillar-of-the-community father, the local doctor. Tree struggles as she discovers webs of secrets in her family and community. Where is the truth? Tree is an appealing, naïve 13 ("Somebody swore—the ‘d' word for the structure that keeps water back"); indeed, the whole book has an old-fashioned feel, harking back to simpler times when teenagers gladly went to the drive-in with their families. Small-town Missouri in 1963 is nicely captured in many references to current events, music and movies. Quotations from famous authors are scattered throughout, reflecting Tree's focus on writing. Tree's godlike father is too reminiscent of Atticus Finch to altogether succeed, though; his moralizing and invoking God become sermonic. A simple story with surprising depth in its examination of truth and compassion. (Historical fiction. 11-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375899829
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 481,712
  • Age range: 10 years
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

DANDI DALEY MACKALL has written many books for children and adults. She has held a humorist column and served as freelance editor, has hosted over 200 radio phone-in programs, and has made dozens of appearances on TV. She conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the U.S. and keynotes at conferences and young author events. Her YA novel with Knopf, The Silence of Murder, won an Edgar Award. Dandi writes from rural Ohio where she lives with her husband, three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats. Visit her at and

From the Hardcover edition.
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