Review Blog

Oct 21 2020

The great realisation by Tomos Roberts

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Illus. by Nomoco. Harper Collins Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9781460759806.
(Ages: 7+) Recommended. First performed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this poem has been viewed over 60 million times and translated into over 20 languages. The young author, UK spoken-word poet freelance filmmaker Tomos Roberts, struggled financially when the pandemic hit and set himself a challenge to find a hopeful message within the hardship and isolation faced by many. He describes the book as 'a bedtime story for a time of change' and a 'reminder that we need not aim for a return just to normal when there is a tangible prospect of progress and the potential for so much more'. Nomoco's vibrant watercolour illustrations are minimal but poignant, adding to the wonderfully serene, yet hopeful nature of the poem itself.
The story starts with two children asking for a bedtime story: 'Tell me the one about the virus again, then I'll go to bed'. The story the children are asking for begins before the pandemic and tells what the world was like before: big companies, instant gratification of material needs, busy people without time to talk to each other, isolation and environmental destruction. It tells of how while everyone was busy hiding from the virus, wonderful things started to happen: we started to talk more, rush around less and enjoy simple activities and the environment started to breathe again. Then it talks of what we hope will happen: 'we all preferred the world we found, to the one we'd left behind'.
This is a beautifully optimistic book that wants to separate history into pre-covid and post-covid, with the hope that the two eras will look drastically different. While it remains to be seen if this will come to fruition, it's a realisation worth sharing with people of all ages. A teacher's guide is available. Themes: Modern life, Hope, 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Poetry.
Nicole Nelson

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