In this sixth story of the Violet Mackerel series, Violet and Rose start a very small protest to make a very big impact.
Violet and Rose have shared their best secrets under the big oak tree in Clover Park. And they have found some very good small things there too. So when Johnson’s Tree Services stomps in and posts a sign that says PUBLIC NOTICE–TREE REMOVAL, they know that they must do something to stop them.
When their first protest washes away in the rain, Violet and Rose feel discouraged. But then they realize that the sort of people who care most about small things, like birds not having nests and people not having a place to collect acorns, might also be the sort of people who notice very small protests. And that gives them a quite brilliant idea, one that just might save their tree, on behalf of all the small things—and small people—who love it.
Violet Mackerel is under the big, old oak tree at Clover Park. She is collecting acorns with Rose, her very good friend and neighbor. So far they have about twenty each, but they are still looking for more, mainly because it is nice to be under the oak tree where the sun filters through yellowish-green, the smells are musty and earthy, and small creatures sometimes rustle and scurry in the leaves.
Just as their pockets are getting too full to hold many more acorns, a truck pulls up and two people get out. They are dressed in matching green overalls with red writing that says JOHNSON’S TREE SERVICES.
Violet wonders what sort of work they might do. Rose guesses that tree servicers might be a bit like waiters at a restaurant, except instead of bringing drinks in tall glasses on trays, they bring them in buckets and hoses. Violet suspects they could be a bit like doctors, only instead of counting heartbeats and listening to deep breaths, they count acorns and listen to rustling leaves. They both think that when they are older they might like to have matching overalls that say VIOLET AND ROSE’S TREE SERVICES.
The people in the van walk over to the tree, so Rose is able to ask them what they do instead of guessing. They say that their work isn’t much like being a waiter or a doctor, but they don’t really have time to explain what it is like. Mainly they just need Violet and Rose to move away so they can measure different parts of the tree and take pictures without being disturbed.
Vincent is sitting nearby on a wooden bench reading a book called Honeymooning on a Shoestring. He and Violet’s mama got married quite a while ago now, but there wasn’t enough money for a honeymoon, so they are thinking of having a late one. Violet has had lots of good ideas for them, like scuba diving in the ocean or possibly going to space. But there is still not much money for a honeymoon, especially not one that involves diving equipment or rockets, so they definitely need the shoestring sort. That is why Vincent and Violet borrowed the book from the library.
Violet and Rose both feel a bit shy after being asked to move away from the oak tree, so they join Vincent on the bench and look at the book with him. The bench is their second favorite place in the park because it has a nice goldish plaque that says IN MEMORY OF EVA.
It twinkles as if the dusty old wood is wearing a brooch. They like wondering who Eva might have been.
“What do you think those people are doing?” Violet asks Vincent.
But before he can answer, the woman in the overalls calls out and asks if there is a gas station nearby. Vincent is a bit deaf, so he has to go up quite close to hear her question properly and ends up talking with them for a little while.
“Did they tell you anything?” asks Rose when he joins them back on the bench with a slight frown on his face.
“Yes,” says Vincent. “They told me they’ve been hired to cut down the oak tree.”
“Cut it down?” checks Violet.
“Cut it right down?” double-checks Rose.
Vincent nods. “There is going to be a parking lot built over this part of the park, and they need to clear the land before laying down the concrete.”
“They can’t do that!” says Violet.
“Unfortunately, they can,” says Vincent. “They’re coming back in two weeks to do the job.”
It is a horrible surprise.
Before leaving, the people from Johnson’s Tree Services bang a big sign onto the tree with a noisy hammer. It says:
It is quite late in the day now, so the birds are getting a bit noisy. The cicadas have started singing, and the insects are turning golden in the setting sunlight. Violet, Vincent, and Rose do the slow, quiet walking that people do after they find out something worrying.
When they get to Violet’s house, Violet and Rose go up to Violet’s room to talk and think. They have told each other their best secrets under the oak tree. They have found some very good small things there too—not just acorns, but leaf skeletons and a butterfly wing and even a golden dollar coin. Once they made a daisy chain that went all the way around the trunk. It is hard to imagine the park without the oak tree.
“Do you have any theories that might help?” asks Rose. Violet has theories about lots of things, and they are sometimes useful for solving problems.
Violet thinks. “No,” she says. “Maybe it’s because my theories are mostly about small things, and this is a very, very big thing.”
Rose thinks too. “Johnson’s Tree Services said the chopping won’t actually happen for two weeks,” she says. “There must be something we can do before then.”
Violet agrees, but she doesn’t know what that something could be. That is the problem.
Anna Branford was born on the Isle of Man and spent parts of her childhood in Africa and in Papua New Guinea. Now she lives in Melbourne, Australia, with a large black cat called Florence. She writes, drinks cups of tea in her garden, and makes dolls and other small things, which she sells at early morning markets.Anna is the author of the Violet Mackerel series. Visit her at AnnaBranford.com.
"In her sixth book, Violet and her friend Rose discover that their favorite oak tree is scheduled to be cut down to make way for a parking lot. . . . Branford manages to make circumstances work out for Violet, a good-hearted kid who can figure out what she is feeling before she speaks. The fortuitous ending . . . reads like just desserts."
– Booklist, July 2014
"When Violet and her friend Rose learn that their favorite oak tree is to be cut down, they organize a small protest with a big result. . . . Readers need not have read the five previous titles to appreciate Violet and her family. . . . Aussie Violet's world is just different enough to provide an interesting change for readers entering the chapter book stage. They will quite like the family's Saturday market stall, with its knitted nests and china birds, and they will enjoy the friends' success. . . . A characteristically intelligent entry in a consistently appealing series."