Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Tricia GilbeyThe Green Heart TreeAlex EnglishMGContemporary Fantasy Adventure49000

The Green Heart Tree is a 49,000 word MG contemporary fantasy adventure brimming with the green magic of the natural world.

Eden’s looking forward to a fun summer at Moongate Manor with Mum. Mum’s been away since her uncle died, studying the unique plants in Moongate Wood. Mum asked her to take care of a tree sapling and Eden can’t wait to show her how big it’s grown. But Mum’s not well, and after whispering a mysterious message about planting the tree, she falls into a deep and deadly sleep. Eden’s left alone with creepy Mrs Rudge, who says strange things about killing giants.

Eden escapes into the natural world to find out where to plant her tree. Badger cub, Bup, shows her a secret older than time—a giant green boy who should be sleeping under the old Green Heart Tree to protect the wild world. But the old tree is dying, and Eden must plant her tree to help him sleep again. When the new Green Heart Tree is stolen, Eden and Bup must believe they’re not too small to make a difference as they venture into the perilous enchanted forest, and confront the green boy’s ancient enemy. 

The seeds for this story grew from an Icelandic poem about a giant who sleeps under the ground and from legends of the green man. Helping children feel a connection with nature is very close to my heart, and as a teacher I helped children build a large pond, create wild and gardening areas, and plant trees. 

The Green Heart Tree is about protecting hope, both for and through the natural world. It’s a standalone story, but I have ideas for a series of Moongate Manor books featuring Eden’s adventures in the Forests of Memoria.

Best wishes,

Tricia Gilbey

THE GREEN HEART TREE

In my dreams I’d come back to Moongate Manor to see Mum again and again, always travelling through the shine of summer, down over the stone bridge, along by the duck pond, and up past the we-are-very-nearly-there pub. 

Now at last, we were nearly there for real. I looked up at the pub sign, The Green Man. His face had a mane of twigs and twisting ivy, and he gazed at me with eyes like blue-green pools. Bright new leaves sprouted wildly from his mouth. 

My tree, balancing on my lap in its clay pot, had leaves the exact same green. It was a sapling, a promise of a tree, trying to get bigger with every gleaming, silver-green leaf that it proudly unfurled. A moonbeam tree Mum called it, but you won’t find one of those in any tree book, or even online. I couldn’t wait to show her. When she gave it to me it was just a little stick with two twiggy branches and only five leaves—it was nearly hitting the roof of the car now. 

Dad was humming like he always did when he thought he might go wrong. 

‘It’s next left and up the hill,’ I said. 

‘I know. Only came up a few weeks ago.’

‘Five weeks and three days!’ But it seemed like forever.

Dad was glancing down at the sat nav. He’d forgotten the lane wasn’t on there. The sun shone in my eyes and it was lucky I spotted the turning. 

Moongate Manor
PRIVATE ROAD

So private that Great Uncle Bill never wanted me and Dad here. As we turned up the lane the overhanging branches stole the light. I stared out, seeing nothing, but suddenly, from the shadows, coming down the bank, a flash of black and white.

‘Dad!’ I yelled, hugging my tree.

He braked and swerved. I slammed into the side window, my face full of leaves. 

‘Eden?’

I untangled myself, ran my hand through the leaves trying to breathe, and there, just standing in the road, a badger cub—head up, whiskers twitching. He looked curiously at the car, then clambered up the bank.

‘Wow…’ I watched his stumpy tail disappear into the woods at the top.

Dad restarted the engine. ‘He’s lucky you spotted him.’

As we came up into the sun again, past fields of sheep and along the hornbeam avenue, the manor rose in front of us, and hope rushed like blood to my head. There were the tall chimneys, the tower with the steeple on top, and the library wing with the balcony and the up and down bits like a castle. I felt my excitement might fizz right out of my ears if I didn’t hold it in. I was actually going to see Mum for real, instead of on the laptop, at last. She’d stayed to finish her uncle’s survey of the spring flowers in Moongate Woods, but now it was the holidays we could all stay here, all summer long.