The Great Realisation by Tomos Roberts
Written for his younger siblings in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Great Realisation is a poem of positivity and resilience.
Written in the form of a bedtime story, the poem reminds us to look for the good - from simple acts of kindness and finding joy in everyday activities, to the heroic efforts of essential workers that have brought us together during lockdown and given us hope in these bizarre times.
Author Tomos Roberts, from New Zealand but now living in London, has said he hopes the picture book can be a helpful to people.
"I hope it can be useful to people and serve as a reminder of the time and an encouragement to any who believe improvement is possible."
The book offers parents and caregivers a gentle entry point to discuss the realities of 2020 with younger readers.
The poem begins with doom and gloom, with Roberts touching on the industrialisation of the world, pollution and our obsession with social media.
Of course, 'the virus' then spreads across the globe and, as Roberts states, we "dusted off our instincts".
The book goes on to discuss lived experiences of Covid-19 lockdown - clapping for health workers, connecting with people via phone calls, planes no longer in the sky.
It goes on to discuss that it took a virus to bring people together and how it is just the beginning of our 'new normal'.
The poem does gloss over a lot of experiences though of lockdown. There's no depiction of families who have suffered huge financial hardships, of loneliness, of death from the virus.
But as Roberts states in a note included in the book, he didn't "seek to negate the suffering of so many. All I want is to offer up a message of hope and optimism". He does that well.
Aided in that telling is the beautiful artwork by illustrator Nomoco. The illustrations use colour to wonderful affect. Pre-virus it's all muted colours, think browns and sepia, deep blues and greys.
There's a confronting double spread of an ocean that at first looks like a sea with a few fish. But look closer and you can see how polluted it all is.
Once the virus arrives and people begin to remember how to connect, the book explodes into rainbows. It mirrors the optimism of Roberts's words perfectly.
Roberts uploaded a performance of The Great Realisation, featuring a cameo from his seven-year-old brother, onto his YouTube channel. Viewed over 60 million times, it's a must watch alongside the picture book.
In a year where our entire world has been turned upside down, The Great Realisation offers readers a glimpse of hope and a shift in perspective.
Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell
HarperCollins, RRP $24.99