Sunday 4 February 2024

Nova’s Missing Masterpiece by Brooke Graham, illustrated by Robin Tatlow-Lord (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9781922539373

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Nova has created a portrait for her dad’s birthday, but now she can’t find it – and the party is about to start! As she and her dog, Harley, search high and low for her missing masterpiece, Nova experiences an array of overwhelming emotions, from anger to frustration. Yet Harley stays serene. He takes a deep breath, drinks from his bowl and howls like he’s singing. Nova decides to follow Harley’s lead. She does some belly breathing, grabs a glass of water, and listens to soothing music. As she begins to feel better, she stretches out on the couch and discovers the artwork under a cushion.

Brooke Graham’s dynamic language draws children aged four to nine into Nova’s frantic forage, where an emotional roller-coaster awaits. But they are not left to tackle the twists and turns of the big dipper on their own. Along with Nova, readers discover a plethora of psychological tools that they can rely on when the ride of life becomes too bumpy: self-regulation, resilience, and persistence.

Rich colours radiate from Robin Tatlow-Lord’s busy images, especially a fiery red that reflects Nova’s rage. This is carefully balanced with cool green when Nova is calm. Robin cleverly reveals Nova’s increasing agitation by making the vignettes of the protagonist larger and larger. Young eyes will eagerly scour the detailed room illustrations, hoping to help Nova by locating her artwork.

A must for every child’s bookshelf, Nova’s Missing Masterpiece is a marvellous guide to managing enormous feelings. The uncomplicated techniques are effectively mini mental reset buttons that kids can tuck away in their mind until needed.

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