In this latest picture-book series entry, Lapid (Mother’s Day with Snowman Paul, 2018, etc.) offers strong couplets about a girl and a tree saving each other, and returning illustrator Pasek highlights the bright colors of its tropical setting.
A small tawari sapling is threatened by bulldozers and fires that are clearing the forest. Yara, a young Indigenous girl, comes to its rescue. The sapling grows quickly to become a tree that Yara (who appears to still be the same age) can climb. One day, when Yara becomes very ill, her mother brings an elder to their home to make a diagnosis. The elder laments that there once was a tree that could provide her with a remedy, but it may now be extinct. Savvy readers will be unsurprised that Yara’s tawari tree is the very one that she needs to cure her sickness, thus repaying her kindness. Lapid’s message—that humans need the rainforest as much as the rainforest needs them to save it—comes through clearly in Yara and the tree’s personal connection. Unfortunately, with no author’s note and an unnamed setting, it’s hard to gauge the authenticity of Pasek’s apparently Amazon-inspired images or Lapid’s cultural descriptions.
A story with a good ecological message and vibrant paintings that falls short by omitting context.