Marisol Rainey has a tree in her backyard which she calls Peppina. This wonderous, glorious, giant Magnolia tree is exceptionally perfect for climbing, just ask her 12-year-brother Oz and her best friend Jada who both love to climb it. Marisol hates Peppina because she can’t climb it. She’s too afraid.

This is Newbery author Erin Entrada Kelly’s newest book about the very imaginative 8-year-old Marisol who lives in Louisiana with her science teacher mother who was born in the Philippines  and her American father who works three weeks out of every month on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Even though the story is told in third person, the reader is completely drawn into Marisol’s unique perspective of the world. Children will read this story and see a little bit of themselves in Marisol because don’t we all have something we fear? Don’t we all feel inadequate at times? And they will be hoping, along with Marisol, that one day, she might climb that tree…maybe.

This would be a great read-aloud in an elementary classroom. It would also be a good reminder for adults that growing up can be hard for children who are facing challenges that seem as unconquerable to them as a 40-foot magnolia tree seems to Marisol. Recommended for ages 8-10.