The Big Old Rambutan Tree, Kathy Creamer (author, illus.), Little Pink Dog Books, May 2020.
From the flames of the burning rainforest, an extraordinary bond of friendship ignites between a savage tiger and a gentle orangutan, as they both struggle to survive in their fast diminishing habitat.
With all net proceeds being donated to Orangutan Outreach, this book is all the more important for raising awareness of the wonderful conservation work being done to preserve the delicate rainforests and their wildlife. The Big Old Rambutan Tree is symbolic of a safe haven, a place one can go for sustenance and where you’ll appreciate the importance of family and friendship.
Sadly, all but true, deforestation endangers many species of wildlife. This heart-rending tale addresses its effects on the orangutan population in the Sumatran rainforest, however, in a sensitive way for its young readers. We are introduced to the beautiful, and beautiful-hearted orangutan, Ginger; lover of the prickly rambutan fruit, protector and nurturer of her family. This trait is clearly evident when she adopts a lost baby tiger cub, much to the dismay of the other orangutans. Absolutely heart-warming, tender and bright illustrations follow, showing the pair embracing life and how to survive in the tree tops. Stripes, the tiger, grows and eventually follows his natural hunting instincts – it was imminent that their rambutan tree lifestyle had to come to an end. But what is long-lasting is their bond, even years later, with loggers causing a devastating fire that threatens their existence. Powerful images of vicious reds and oranges tear through the pages, broken free with the tiger saviour almost literally bounding out of the dangerous scenes behind him, Ginger in tow.
Kathy Creamer’s narrative is gentle and reassuring, as well as densely rich in description to elicit feelings from all the senses. Her illustrations equally support the intensity through soft watercolours and realistic expressions – both the sweet, tender moments and the frightening ones magnificent in their emotive power.
Along with empowerment, The Big Old Rambutan Tree blooms with hope, with renewed life, and with the strength of courage to stand up for what’s good and right, and to cast all pre-conceived judgements aside. A vital environmental message about the significance of conservation, topped with a sweet, engaging storyline. The perfect nourishment for children from age three and up.
Review by Romi Sharp.
*Special thanks to Little Pink Dog Books for providing a copy of The Big Old Rambutan Tree for review.