Yara's Tawari Tree


Children - Picture Book
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 06/17/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Yara's Tawari Tree is a children’s educational picture book written by Yossi Lapid and illustrated by Joanna Pasek. Yara lived in a tropical jungle with her mom. The two of them occupied a small house on stilts by a river. They lived in harmony with the jungle, using only what they needed to survive. But one day as Yara went out to look for mushrooms and edible fruits and plants, a friendly parrot alerted her to the crisis confronting a very special sapling. Yara followed the parrot and discovered the tiny Tawari tree on the border of a section of jungle that was being clear cut. She could see the bulldozers still working, and the smoke billowing from where the workers were burning the remains as it spread throughout the jungle. The tree had realized that it was only a matter of time until it would be cut down as well. Yara gently began to dig around the sapling’s trunk, taking care not to harm its roots as she carefully removed it. She hurried to her house and asked her mom for help in keeping the young tree alive. They did find the perfect spot for the Tawari tree, and as she carefully replanted it and watched it grow, Yara began to realize she had also found a best friend.

Yara's Tawari Tree is a visual feast for the eyes and spirit as kids and their caregivers learn about the close interrelationships of animals, plants and people in the jungle. Lapid’s compelling story highlights the tragic reality that daily incursions of clear-cutting in the jungle are often responsible for the destruction of potent and irreplaceable plant-based medicines, like the bark from Yara’s Tawari tree. I had high expectations for this book as I am a big fan of Lapid’s storytelling and Pasek’s marvelous art as seen in Lapid’s Snowman Paul series, but these two talented creatives have managed to delight and surprise me anyway, surpassing any such expectations. Lapid’s story is enchanting, and it is the perfect opening for discussions on the environment and the things that kids can do right now to be part of the solution. Pasek’s watercolors are glorious! Each jungle scene works so very well, and I found myself eagerly absorbing every detail, use of color and wash, and trick of light. Each panel is a work of art suitable for framing and hanging in a child’s room. Yara and her world come to life so vividly in this book, it makes it difficult to finally turn over the last page. Yara's Tawari Tree is most highly recommended.

Viga Boland

Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid is so different from many I’ve read and reviewed. For starters, its setting is anything but same old, same old. Yara lives in an Amazon rain forest with her mother in a house made of wood standing on tall wooden logs. Most children, looking at the gorgeous full bleed pictures, which appear to be water paintings, might think of it as a tree playhouse, but it isn’t. It’s Yara’s home. Yara and her mother nourish themselves on mushrooms and berries, and are very much one with their natural environment.

When a little Tawari tree seedling tells Yara she is terrified that she will get cut down soon, Yara sets out to rescue the seedling. She comes up with a wonderful idea to help her seedling friend.

The seedling was happy to get a new start,
It thrived on the love from Yara’s big heart.
Its leaves were abundant, its trunk shot up tall.
Down below, its deep roots grew thick in the fall.

When one day, Yara falls ill, it’s her Tawari tree’s chance to return the favor, and it does. How? That’s what enchanted young readers will learn about how we can help nature and nature helps us.

Yara’s Tawari Tree gives parents and teachers an opportunity to enlighten youngsters about the importance to our planet of preserving the rain forests for all, both animals and humans, who ultimately benefit from the our rain forests’ rich offerings. Through the nearly perfectly executed rhyme, nicely positioned on each page so the printing doesn’t detract from the lovely artwork, Yossi Lapid encourages young children to think about a currently hot topic, our environment and our role in its maintenance, and he does it in a way that both entertains and teaches. Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid is a charming children’s picture book with a delightful story and remarkable illustrations. A 5-star highly recommended read.

Kris Moger

Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid is a touching story about the connection between a child and the earth. Little Yara lives in a beautiful village in the midst of a jungle. She helps her mother by gathering things like mushrooms and other edibles for them. One day, she sees machines and people tearing down the Tawari trees. Then she finds a seedling in danger and decides to rescue it. This simple act of kindness brings more to her life than she could ever imagine as the tree grows by her house.

I loved the simplicity of Yara’s Tawari Tree. Yossi Lapid creates a sweet, honest tale of kindness and preservation. The generosity and precious beauty of nature are highlighted through the illustrations by Joanna Pasek, whose images are sure to capture the imaginations of both children and adults. Altogether, I believe the author and illustrator have created an important story to share with any child, especially those who might not realize how important the diverse plant life is to our very survival. This story makes that message personal, touching on a perspective to which almost everyone can relate. The story isn’t preachy in its message but it still reminded me of the importance of nature. I loved the character of Yara and the little plant and how they take care of each other. This is a story I would have shared with my children when they were little, and I believe they would have made me read it again and again.

Dawn Weaver

Yara’s Tawari Tree is an enchanting book, written by Yossi Lapid, that tells the story of an endangered tree and a caring little girl. Yara and her mother live happily along a river in a verdant jungle, getting their sustenance from the land about them. When the existence of a tawari seedling is threatened by a bulldozer clearing the area around it, Yara’s parrot, Chant, leads her to the frightened young tree. Yara rescues it and brings it home to her wise mother. Later, Yara herself is threatened by a mysterious illness. Will her worried mother be able to help her in time?

This beautiful tale is told in a lovely poetic cadence that is perfectly accentuated by the soft watercolors of illustrator Joanna Pasek. Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid is a charming book written both to tell a tale and to give a warning. I was immediately enthralled by the lovely watercolor illustrations. I could picture myself sitting in the sunshine with a child or grandchild, reading about Yara’s love for this little tree and the world around her. The warning about the dangers of large-scale destruction of land is subtle, but poignant. A lovely story for the whole family to read together.

Donna Gielow McFarland

Yara’s Tawari Tree written by Yossi Lapid and illustrated by Joanna Pasek tells the story of a kind-hearted girl named Yara, her Mama, a parrot named Chant, and Yara’s best friend, a talking tree. Yara lives in the jungle and when a young Tawari tree is threatened by clear-cutting, she rescues the seedling and brings it home with her. The tree grows and all is good until one day when Yara becomes very ill and Mama calls for the old village doctor. There is only one cure for Yara’s illness and it comes from a special type of tree, but the doctor is worried that there might not be any left…

The story told in Yara’s Tawari Tree is charming and uplifting, but the full-page watercolor illustrations by Joanna Pasek are absolutely luscious! They perfectly capture the jungle rainforest where Yara and her Mama live and the pictures are so beautiful they make you want to go there. The illustrations give such a good depiction of the story line that I believe a child, having heard the story once, would be able to “read” the book themselves and remember everything that happens. Yossi Lapid’s text is in rhyming verse and there is just enough, but not too much. Really, no more text is needed because the illustrations tell the story so well. The environmental message is clear, but it’s not heavy-handed. I found Yara’s Tawari Tree utterly captivating in its beauty and simplicity. Loved the story, loved the book. Highly recommended for children of picture book age.