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Cover Reveal: The Songbird and the Rambutan Tree

We’re so glad to share the stunning cover reveal of THE SONGBIRD AND THE RAMBUTAN TREE by Lucille Abendanon. The cover is  illustrated by Millie Liu and the cover design is by Karli Kruse.

I’m here to spotlight the cover of THE SONGBIRD AND THE RAMBUTAN TREE hosted by @jollyfishpress so let’s dive in!


Batavia, Dutch East Indies, 1942.

Emmy has the voice of an angel but hasn’t sung a note since her mother’s tragic death. Instead, Emmy’s primary concerns are to enjoy adventures with her Javanese
friend, Bakti; to avoid interacting with her snooty Dutch classmate, Violet; and to convince her father to let her stay in Batavia instead of shipping her off to singing
school in England.

Then the Japanese army invades Batavia—and as war erupts in the Dutch East Indies, Emmy’s world falls apart.

When her own actions sabotage her family’s chance to evacuate the island, Emmy is captured and confined in the Tjideng prisoner-of-war camp with other women and

Separated from her family and friends, and silenced by her grief, Emmy will need all her strength to survive the war, find her voice, and reclaim her freedom.

The Songbird And the Rambutan Tree

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Pages: 320

Jan 23, 2024 | ISBN 978-1631638206

Purchase via North Star Editions: 30% off spring release pre orders using code SPRING2024

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Lucille Abendanon has always lived a life on the move. She grew up in Norfolk before emigrating to South Africa when she was twelve. She has three nationalities and over the past twenty years has called Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey and The Netherlands home. She holds an MA in International Studies, and recently returned to the UK to give her three boys a slice of the rural childhood she enjoyed. She is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course, and has contributed to numerous anthologies about living abroad and raising multicultural kids on the move. Connect with her on Instagram @lucilleabendanon_author .

Author’s Note on Cover
“I always knew the rambutan tree scene would be perfect on the front cover of The Songbird and the Rambutan Tree, and am so thrilled Millie Liu has interpreted it in such a meaningful way.

This scene, with Bakti high up in the branches (representing his moral high ground), and Emmy down below (representing how far she is about to fall from her privileged life) is the emotional turning point of the novel. This is where the unthinkable happens, where two worlds collide and the truth is unveiled.

It is where best friends are set upon wildly different paths. There are so many hidden meanings in the cover: the songbird, the way Bakti is looking at the Japanese bomber planes, the barbed wire. I have a feeling that the cover will mean something entirely different to the reader after finishing the book!

The Songbird and the Rambutan Tree is ultimately a story of hope, and I absolutely love the way Millie has captured this in the light. It beams out from the Japanese flag of war, touching Emmy’s back, and radiating off the rambutan tree’s trunk. It represents the book’s core message, that even in the depths of darkness when all seems lost, there is always hope.”

Q&A with author Lucille Abendanon

Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: A lifetime of conversations with my Oma, Emmy who survived the infamous Tjideng prisoner of war camp in Batavia, Dutch East Indies in WW2. I traveled to Indonesia to find Tjideng. It was incredibly moving, I write about it in my author’s note. House Two,
where she lived, is still there.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced writing this book?
A: Honestly? Three children, multiple Covid lockdowns and renovating a farmhouse in the English countryside. A lack of time!

This book has been in my head for at least fifteen years, I just didn’t know what form it would take.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from this book?
A: I hope readers enjoy a rollicking good story, and root for Emmy, Bakti and Violet as they each face their own very different challenges.

I would love it if readers feel that they’ve learned something about prisoner of war camps in Asia during WW2.

Most middle grade WW2 stories are set in England or
Europe, and so I hope readers enjoy the tropical setting of Indonesia.

Q: What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from your book?
A: Oh so many! I adore the scene between Emmy and Bakti under the rambutan tree. It’s the emotional turning point of the story, and is so sad, so poignant as the two best friends are set on opposing paths. It was wonderful to write.

(Edited version)

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