Nine-year-old LYLA LYTE is desperate to use her imagination, but she doesn’t know how. Several attempts end in failure before Lyla’s mother, MRS. LYTE, reveals that, before Lyla was born, there were objects called books that helped people learn how to use their imaginations. But MAYOR CRINKLE banned all books and ordered them to be buried.
Despite promising to keep this newfound information a secret, Lyla tells all her best friends, MEGAN, SAMANTHA, and NICK. They join her in a quest to find the buried books, but their search instead turns up a strange seed.
Lyla plants the seed in her backyard, and an unusual tree sprouts—one that grows books. In holding a book for the very first time and flipping through the pages as her imagination goes wild, Lyla discovers the joy of reading. Lyla’s gang take to referring to the books as “Li’berry Fruit” to disguise their true identity, but soon, everyone in Lyla’s class knows. Eventually, the Li’berry Fruit spread across town through a series of sweetly hopeful book exchanges and strategic drops around the community.
Furious about the illegal books, the mayor drives throughout town looking for the source of the book distribution. He eventually learns that the Lyte's house is the hub. He gives Mr. Lyte an ultimatum. He can continue to allow Lyla to pass out books or be fired from his current position. Lyla’s dad tells the mayor that he doesn't care about his job.
Not pleased with his choice, the mayor decides to take actions in his own hands. He grabs an axe from his vehicle and swings it at the Li’berry Tree trying to chop it down. The axe hits the tree, flies out of the mayor hands and into the air. As it descends, Lyla is in jeopardy of being hit by the axe.
The book Nick has been reading gives him sense of bravery and he speeds to Lyla' rescue pushing her out of the way. From the swaying of the Li’berry Tree…a book falls from the branch and hits Mayor Crinkle in the head. He falls on his behind and the book lands in his lap. Intrigued… he opens it and with reading a few pages he remembers the value of reading. He gets up and declares the ban on books has been lifted, and he will be building a brand new library for the town.
Voted "Best of 2012"
"[A] fast-paced and well-written novel. An impressive story about a girl whoce courage transforms a town."