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Book Reviews - The Lonely Jacaranda

A selection of reviews below, more can be found at Goodreads

Tania Moloney, Founder, Nurture in Nature Australia - 

“The Lonely Jacaranda is a heart-warming story of fitting in, finding your feet, embracing differences and celebrating your unique gifts wherever you land.  The illustrations are stunning and fit perfectly with the story - magnificently modest yet immensely powerful in their simplicity.”

Jaca is a visitor in a new place, far from home. Some might say a ‘weed’ that doesn’t belong. But even a weed from a far off place once belonged somewhere else first.  There is a bit of Jaca in all of us - yearning for acceptance, understanding, belonging and connection. As the story unfolds – and after some initial resistance - the ‘locals’ band together to help Jaca feel like she belongs, and help her celebrate and share her unique gifts.

In this beautiful fable, Russell highlights how embracing differences and celebrating diversity can help create stronger communities and nurture feelings of belonging, pride and connection – to each other and to nature.  Jaca and her friends - those like her and those different to her -  show how transformative the power of empathy and understanding can be, and demonstrate that by working together in cooperative rather than competitive relationships, our world (both natural and human) can be made richer in so many ways.

Russell’s paintings are stunning and fit perfectly with the story and message of The Lonely Jacaranda - magnificently modest yet immensely powerful in their simplicity.

Although I have never been to Grafton in October when the Jacarada Trees blossom, through Russell’s words and beautiful artwork, I can vividly see Jaca and her friends with their vibrant purple blossoms dancing in the wind and the purple confetti spreading joy and bringing people together.


The Lonely Jacaranda is a heart-warming story of fitting in, finding your feet, embracing differences and celebrating your unique gifts wherever you land.


To compliment the book Russell has also produced a free, educational A3 poster for children to enjoy and learn about Jaca and her ‘feathered friends’.

Readers' Favorite Book Review - 4 stars

How does a Jacaranda tree who struggles with feeling alone adjust to being in a place where no one seems to like her? When a stranger takes Jaca to a new place when she’s a seed, she grows slowly but not as vibrantly as was expected. She tries to introduce herself to the trees around her, but they just laugh at her, and the birds never rest for very long before flying somewhere else to make their nests. One day, some birds decide they want to cheer Jaca up, so they eat her seeds and plant them all around the town. Before everyone realizes it, more Jacaranda trees are appearing

everywhere and Jaca no longer feels alone!


The Lonely Jacaranda by Russell Irving is a sweet children’s book with a special message. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. The moral of the story is one that children, young and older, should learn and be reminded of - showing kindness to others. I thought the art style was very different from most children’s books I read. It is simple yet complex at the same time, with the painted llustrations telling the story of a lonely tree that finds her home. I love children’s books, whether they’re just lighthearted and adventurous or dive deep into different themes such as this one did. The Lonely Jacaranda by Russell Irving is a book that all youngsters should read with a trusted loved one, as it can bring about interesting and important conversations that children can take with them into everyday life.

Diane Donovan, Snr Reviewer, Mid west Book Review

The Lonely Jacaranda provides a lovely picture book story of a lonely tree whose seed is carried overseas to be planted among other types of trees.


Jaca is the first of her kind in this new world, and the local trees consider her odd. So do the native birds, who each choose a different tree because of their different qualities. 


Jaca has no inviting leaves in winter, and thus she presents a "cold and windy" countenance to the world around her.


The little birds aren't uncaring, however. And this may prove to be Jaca's salvation as they come up with a unique plan for easing her loneliness, with unexpected ramifications not just for Jaca's problem, but the human and natural world around her.


Russell Irving employs simple drawings to accompany his moving story. He also reviews the birds and trees of his native Australia in the course of a delightful story about compassion that young picture book readers will find appealing and fun.


Adults looking for a gentle tale of friendship and problem-solving that incorporates insights about the Australian environment will find The Lonely Jacaranda a simple, enjoyable read.

Mary Lanni, Kidlit book reviewer, Librarian

“Heartfelt and endearing, this story is a good fit for families with a love of nature and community connection, 5 Stars”

Being transplanted to a new place is never easy, even for a Jacaranda tree. Brought as a seed from her South American home to one an entire ocean away in Australia, Jacaranda is the only tree of her kind in the town of Grafton. Loneliness causes Jacaranda to grow slowly, and her many differences alienate Jacaranda from the other flora and fauna around her. One day, the local birds decide to help spread Jacaranda’s seeds to add more Jacaranda trees to the neighborhood. And as time passes and more purple flowers fill the air, Grafton becomes a community of friends of all kinds who thrive in each other’s company. This lovely story reads as a fable, encouraging readers to come together and welcome every member of one’s environs with open arms. Based on the real town of Grafton in New South Wales, Australia, this book incorporates much of the flora and fauna found in this locale into both the text and the illustrations. Images of native birds and trees fill the backgrounds, and the sounds made by indigenous birds flavor the narrative. Presented in playful font and larger blocks of text, this book will appeal to elementary school-aged readers in both design and content. It will likely inspire further research about Grafton—no matter where in the world a reader happens to live—as well. Soft, fluid lines are used to create the images, lending a feeling of nostalgia and emotion to each one, and readers will enjoy matching the textual elements to their visual counterparts

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