Written by Jarrod Gatlin; Illustrated by Don Robinson
A poignant and powerful story about 2 friends, Koa the Hawaiian bird and Hilo the monk seal. When Koa meets Hilo, Koa shows Hilo a world he has no idea existed. Filled with laughter, happiness and fun, everything is exciting and new for Koa. Then a hurricane hits. The world and lives of 2 best friends take an unexpected turn. The Kukui Tree is a celebration of friendship and love while addressing the sensitive topic of grief, a theme you rarely read about in a children’s book. Author Jarrod Gatlin wrote this book as a memorial for his lifetime best friend who died suddenly in a car accident. The Kukui Tree opens the communication for parents to talk with their children about the meaning of grief, how to overcome it, as well as educating them about the true meaning of Carpe Diem, friendship and remembrance.
Why a “kukui tree”? There is a constant reference to this tree, which draws readers to their own conclusion at the end of the story. The kukui tree has a place of honor in the Hawaiian culture, known for its literal and a spiritual source of light.