Tree Girl

Tree Girl

4.9 9
by T. A. Barron

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Rowanna’s stern caretaker, Mellwyn, has warned her again and again not to go near the trees that surround their seaside cottage. But Rowanna is drawn to the forest—especially the HighWillow on its faraway hill. Are the trees really forest ghouls, as Mellwyn says? Or could they possibly hold the secret to Rowanna’s past and the mother she can hardly


Rowanna’s stern caretaker, Mellwyn, has warned her again and again not to go near the trees that surround their seaside cottage. But Rowanna is drawn to the forest—especially the HighWillow on its faraway hill. Are the trees really forest ghouls, as Mellwyn says? Or could they possibly hold the secret to Rowanna’s past and the mother she can hardly remember? If only she could get near the High Willow, Rowanna feels certain she would understand. . . .

       With its timeless forest setting and charming, whimsical characters, Tree Girl is a perfect introduction to fantasy for young middle-grade readers, from a true master of the genre.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Barron's (The Lost Years of Merlin) unevenly paced fantasy centers on nine-year-old Anna, who lives with a crotchety old man in a cottage near the forest. In answer to her repeated inquiries about her past, her guardian, Master Mellwyn, tells her only that he found her as an infant nestled in the roots of a willow tree. He forbids her to go into the woods, warning that evil "ghouls" live there. At the same time, she is repeatedly drawn to the sight of the High Willow, which towers over the other forest trees: "Something about this tree spoke to her aye, called to her." The chapter that chronicles the heroine's softening toward her master and her immediate about-face moves too swiftly for readers to find her abrupt changes of heart credible. The upshot is that Anna befriends a forbidden bear who suddenly transforms into a boy and announces that he is a "tree spirit." As the two bond, readers will likely piece together the lass's identity, rendering anticlimactic the moment when she discovers who her mother is. The story's confusing internal logic (Why does Anna bear a striking resemblance to the Master's late daughter, for instance?) and predictable denouement diminish its effect. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
As long as Anna can remember, she has lived in a small cabin near the edge of a forest with a grumpy old fisherman named Master Mellwyn. Curiosity about her roots draws her into the forbidden forest where she meets Sash, a bear cub that guides her to the mysterious truth about her past. This fantasy is recommended for young readers who appreciate descriptive language and a meandering story line. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, Philomel, 128p, $14.99. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Tasha Bobrovitz, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature
A lonely child looks for a mother. Starved for affection, she struggles through nearly insurmountable odds, making up a life, talking to animals, trees and birds. The premise is a familiar one, and requires from the author a new viewpoint, new struggles and a new "something" to keep readers from skipping 50 pages and missing nothing, or simply closing the book without finishing. Barron has found that "something." The brave, resourceful character, Rowanna, called Anna, has been raised by the old man she calls "Master," and she knows no other parent. He says he found her at the foot of an enormous willow tree deep in the forest, and that her mother was killed moments before by the ghouls that haunt the woods. That is why he confines her to the cottage; although there are trees and hills right outside, she is forbidden to visit them. She makes a tree-friend, "Burl," and imagines his branches hug her, tease her, smack her. She rescues a tiny bird and calls him "Eagle." She wanders farther into the woods every day, looking for the willow that sheltered her. She makes another friend—a bear cub. When the bear communicates that his name is Sash, he seems to become a sandy-haired boy, who says he is neither bear nor boy, but a tree spirit, a drumalo. He can take her on the two-day journey to the High Willow, when the Master is on a fishing trip or if he'll be gone on All Hallows Day, then that's when they'll go. Anna can hardly wait to find out what happened to her mother. In the woods, she feels free for the first time and decides to climb to the Willow on her own. Anna suddenly realizes that is a drumalo too, which is not very surprising to the reader. But the Master has followed her, andas she curls up at the Willow's roots he grabs for her. She must fight the Master now if she really wants to be with the tree, and when he is injured she must decide whether to save his life even though he has threatened hers. A discussion of this story could involve deciding what it means to be human. Fun to read and not frightening at all. 2001, Philomel, $14.99. Ages 10 to 15. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Barron is a wonderful storyteller, a maker of myths and fables who creates magical places where characters learn wisdom and power. Here, nine-year-old Rowanna is determined to discover her past and find her mother. She lives in a lonely cottage by the sea with a fisherman, old Mellwyn, who rescued her as a baby from beneath the High Willow tree in a forest that is haunted by tree ghouls. In time, Anna befriends a bear/boy who is a tree spirit. When the protection Mellwyn offers begins to feel like a restraint, the girl makes her way to the High Willow with her friend on High Hallow Eve. On that day, spirits emerge from the trees and dance through the night. Anna learns that there are no tree ghouls, and that she, too, is a tree spirit, the daughter of the High Willow. The message is clear: if we are fearful, we will see frightening things around us, while if we are positive in our outlook, we will be open to the world around us. As in the author's previous novels, magic and the supernatural are used to reveal the interconnectedness of all living things and to convey a deep respect for nature. Stylistically rich and lyrical, this novel weaves themes of self-discovery, family, loyalty, and friendship into an imaginative tale.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this short fantasy novel, nine-year-old Rowanna, who lives in an isolated cottage with an old fisherman she calls Master, longs to learn more about her mother. Master has forbidden Rowanna to enter the woods near the cottage, which he claims are full of dangerous tree ghouls. But a playful young bear coaxes Rowanna into the woods and after they becomes friends, she spends her days there. On High Hallow Eve, the two friends take a day-long journey to find the tree where Master discovered Rowanna as a baby. A wild night ensues when the tree spirits emerge and dance with joy, and Rowanna learns the secret of her mother, who is a willow tree. The revelation, though, creates a major inconsistency in the fantasy, causing the reader to wonder why the mother's tree spirit didn't simply rescue Rowanna years earlier. Barron (The Wings of Merlin, 2000, etc.) writes lyrically about the forest and seasons, but he has unfortunately tried to give the language an old-fashioned sound by repeated use of words like "mayhaps" and "aye." He also relies heavily on exclamation points and italics to add emotion. For example, when Rowanna sees a drawing in the sand, she realizes, "It was the face of the master himself! Aye, that it was!" The uncomplicated, slightly predictable story will appeal only to fantasy and fairy-tale lovers who can overlook the often stilted prose. Forsooth. (Fiction 8-11)
From the Publisher
“Barron is a wonderful storyteller, a maker of myths and fables who creates magical places where characters learn wisdom and power.”—School Library Journal

"Tree Girl will surely delight its readers. As in all T.A. Barron books, there is a great deal of wisdom and humor — and an unforgettable hero."— Madeleine L'Engle Newbery Winner, A Wrinkle in Time

“Barron portrays [characters]… with subtlety and originality... [Readers] will respond to  underlying themes of self-reliance, rebellion, and the search for self-knowledge.”—Booklist

“Behind Tree Girl is the author's bone deep belief in the holiness of our earth and the children and trees on it. I wish there were a thousand T.A. Barrons out there.”—Rosemary Wells, Author of Mary on Horseback

Tree Girl is sprightly, magical, and wise. The story is one to enjoy and to ponder, a breath of the forest—a delight.”—Barbara Helen Berger, Author of Grandfather Twilight

“In Tree Girl, T.A. Barron has created a fantasy with the poignancy and the lyricism of the best tales of Hans Christian Andersen.”—Barbara Kiefer, Author of Children's Literature in the Elementary School, 6th and 7th Editions

“Weaves elements of environmentalism, folklore, and personal discovery into a story that is brief but completely engrossing.”—

“I read Tree Girl aloud to my entire family (my youngest is a 2nd grader). They were entranced. The only time I heard anything from them was when I paused to take a drink. The cry was, ‘Keep going!’”—

“I found Tree Girl very touching. It speaks to the mystery that every child has within.”—William Howarth, Professor of English Literature, Princeton University

“T. A. Barron is a wonderful find for young readers for this reason: He tells interesting stories without dumbing them down.”—Boulder Daily Camera

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
530L (what's this?)
File size:
183 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

T. A. Barron ( lives in Boulder, Colorado and is the founder of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors outstanding young people.

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Tree Girl 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beutifully written T. A. Barron. I would suggest this book to all ages and anyone who feels they need some emotion. For kids younger than 10 it's just a good story but for almost anybody older it has a hidden meaning that, once found, makes you feel like you hadn't ever realy understood the world 'till that point when you discover it. The people feel so real, like this is the only reality, all of their choices are so logical, at least in that character's situation. The feelings are discribed so well, the people are introduced so well and seem so reasonable and lovable. This book was the best I have read in a while. Never stop writing T. A. Barron. I will let the readers find the meaning of this book for themselves. - So long By; a reader who loved this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing and I could never put it down, I read it for a book report, and I wanted to do it twice. LOL. This book is amazing and I really recomend it =D
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tree Girl is definately one of Barron's masterpieces! The forest setting is purely magical in it's description and I was drawn into it's lush foliage and whispering leaves right alongside Rowanna. But, the most fantastic and breathtaking moment in this book is the ending. It was so brilliant that I just sort of sat there in awe after I had finished it! Very highly recommended!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would give this 6 stars if I could. It is about a girl named Anna who was found by a fisherman but who feels drawn to the forest at nine years old. I would recommend this book to ANYONE! I couldn't put this book down and I have read it so many times! This is really the best book I have ever read! A friend told me to read this book. I thought it was just some old stupid book, but I tried it and I LOVED it even though I had just read a few pages. I finished it sadly. I wish that it was longer. Please read this book Tree Girl--you really will not regret it! I have been telling my friends to read this book! I can't imagine some people don't like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was simply amazing! I just love to read and I thought I would check this book out at the was outstanding!! I want more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book!! It has so many surprises in it and it seems like things just come alive in that book!! He He they really do! This is highly recommended for anybody who likes an adventure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is written in the style of Barron that was loved in his past books. However, the plot leaves something to be desired. The ending to the story is highly predictable. However, it is written fairly well and is tough to put down. I wish Barron would start writing more high fantasy, as with his Merlin series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, outstanding in ever way, is one for those who the wilderness calls. This fantasy makes the heart sing and the soul soar within the imagination and thought put into this creation by the mind of this great writer. Anyone who longs to hear the grass whisper and the branches sing will instantly fall in love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a small baby, Anna was found by a fisherman in the forest, at the base of a great willow tree. He took her to his small cottage by the sea to raise, and now, nine years old, Anna wonders just what happened to her parents. Mellwyn, the fisherman, insists that the fierce ghouls inhabiting the forest must have killed them. But Anna's curiosity gets the best of her, and one day she wanders into the forest, only to find a world of magic and beauty, not evil and danger. When Mellwyn discovers that she has been to the forest, he forbids her ever to go there again. But Anna feels compelled to return, and especially feels drawn to the willow tree, where she believes she will finally solve the mystery of her origin. I highly reccomend this enchanting fantasy novel.