A historical graphic novel.
The Associates of the Boston Public Library funded the creation of this book through their Children’s Writer-in-Residence program. As 2011-2012 fellow, I spent nine wonderful months working at BPL on Under the Apple Tree and running workshops at libraries, schools, and museums throughout Greater Boston and New England.
In short, it’s a ghost story set during the Second World War.
When sixteen year old Rosie and her mother leave the Boston suburbs and move to a little tourist town in Maine, she is understandably upset. 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 nearly a century past: she needs to solve the mystery behind the Civil War era soldier who haunts her new home. “Discover the truth,” he pleads, “so I may rest.” Plagued by strange dreams, she digs into the past and discovers secrets about the town. Her mission hits obstacles, however, as she struggles to make friends, find independence, and make it to graduation.
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 real events from newspapers of the day to flesh out the story.
Rosie’s character is inspired by 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 became a way for me to preserve those precious remnants of the past.
I have taken down the webcomic site due to maintenance reasons, but you can still download a PDF copy of the finished book here. Be warned, it is a large file (>13 MB).