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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Yara and Purr: The Rescue of a Purring Monkey, written by Yossi Lapid and illustrated by Joanna Pasek, is a children's eco-picture book that revolves around its titular characters, a young girl named Yara and a baby Caqueta Titi monkey named Purr. Purr is feeding himself from the forest's natural bounty as he waits for his father's return. After waiting several hours, Purr's father never arrives which distresses Purr to the point of genuine fear and tears. Meanwhile, little Yara is on a walk when she comes across Purr's father, named Pa, who is trapped in a wire over a scorched patch of earth. Yara is able to free Pa but he is reluctant to get further medical attention as he knows Purr is out in the forest all alone. Yara assures Pa that she will find Purr and bring him back to her home where Pa will be receiving the aid that he needs.
Yara and Purr is an absolutely beautiful, heart-wrenching story and one of the few children's picture books where the talent of the author and illustrator are perfectly matched. Yossi Lapid writes of the two youngsters, Yara and Purr, with a perfect lyrical narrative. The words are so well put that they practically sing from the page, evoking all of the emotive responses from a reader that are generally reserved for the illustrations. The fact is, as a children's nursery rhyme, Lapid's work can stand on its own. Still, the stunning artwork of Joanna Pasek gives the tale that extra breath of life that transforms it in a way that really pulls on the heartstrings. I am a grown man and while reading this to my daughter I got a little choked up. The next morning the girls were so interested in the “purring monkey” that they looked him up, surprised at Purr being part of a newly discovered species but saddened to see it is still on the critically endangered list. From an eco-fiction standpoint, this book is a real winner, but the real judges are children and when kids wake up and are still thinking of their bedtime story—well, there's no greater proof of a worthy story than that.