A graphic novel.
With her father and brother away to fight in World War II, Maggie and her mother sell their house in the suburbs of Boston and move 100 miles away to a town where Mrs. Ripple has found work at a local hospital. Uprooted from her budding teenage social life, the girl is understandably displeased and convinces herself that she is doomed to live the remainder of her days unhappily trapped in the backwoods boondocks of Kennebunk, Maine.
Unfortunately for her, rural life turns out to be more exciting than expected. A bit too exciting, actually.
Rosie must deal with a fate forced upon her by events begun a century past: she must solve the mystery behind the Civil War soldier who haunts her new home. “Discover the truth,” he pleads, “So I may rest.” Plagued by strange dreams, she must dig into the past to uncover secrets about her town, all the while handling the trials and tribulations of being an idealistic young woman growing up in an era of great change.
Under the Apple Tree is a graphic novel that has been in development since 2007. Having always been fascinated with history, I drew inspiration from my hometown’s rich past and wove a unique coming of age tale that combines the best of Gothic fiction and classic Nancy Drew. The Associates of the Boston Public Library funded the creation of this book through their amazing Children’s Writer-in-Residence program. I was the 2011-2012 fellow, spending nine wonderful months working at BPL on comics and running workshops with various libraries, schools, and museums in Greater Boston and throughout New England.
I’ve always been fascinated by history, and Under the Apple Tree is a culmination of my love for storytelling and my need to share the amazing things I’ve discovered about both my hometown’s and my family’s pasts.
The tale takes place during the fall of 1943 in the small coastal town of Kennebunk, Maine. With the help of the Kennebunk Free Library and Brick Store Museum archives I was able to deeply research the setting, drawing true events from newspapers of the day to flesh out the story. Even some of the smallest details are factual, and the book will feature an appendix that explores the historical characters and subtle themes in further depth.
Rosie’s character is based on my own grandmother who grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts and later moved to Kennebunk (though that is a much different story). She was orphaned during the war, and her surviving uncle was a window into lost history when my family cared for him in old age. He told the kinds of stories about their lives that are only seen in movies. In that way, Under the Apple Tree has become a way to preserve those precious remnants of the past.