Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos

Yellow Bike. Mar. 2022. 238p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780578972060.
Gr 4-6–Bibi Blundermuss is scared of trees. She isn’t sure why, but she knows her fear started six months ago, when her adventurer parents disappeared. Still, when her beloved cat Eek is chased into the woods by a swarm of bees, mixed-race Bibi decides to face her fear and sets off after her. This rescue mission turns into a bigger adventure than Bibi bargained for, beginning with an unplanned trip through outerspace on a fast-growing Ash tree that deposits her on an unfamiliar planet, in the middle of an eerie dead forest. There she befriends several young elk, who promise to help her reunite with her mother. Bibi’s hylophobia is ever-present in the novel, and its debilitating effects of nausea and dizziness will be familiar to many readers who struggle with anxiety. Durkin’s imagery brings the mysterious far-away planet and its inhabitants to vivid life, though the pacing of the novel is uneven. Like Bibi, readers are left in the dark about her family’s magical roots until the very end of the story, leaving room for a follow-up.
VERDICT The representation of a Black female protagonist grappling with her mental health is a welcome addition to the middle grade fantasy field.

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