Books & Literature

Book Review: Noura Saves the Planet, by Rufia Valiff

PICTURE BOOK: Noura Saves the Planet is about a young girl who, while bored on her school holidays, goes on an adventure with her feline friend Lentils, in search of ways to better shape her world.

An appealing tale of one girl’s journey to save the planet, one good deed at a time.

Noura has made the most of her school holidays and now she’s bored. She’s read all of her books, practised her saxophone and watched more than enough television. What to do next? Slumped listlessly on the floor with her cat companion, Lentils, Noura turns to her mother for inspiration. Mum suggests venturing out to see whether anyone in the neighbourhood needs a hand with anything—an idea that sparks ambitious plans for the small girl.

Emerging Adelaide author Rufia Valiff’s 42-page self-published hardback book is aimed at children ages 4 to 8 years. This debut publication (with illustrations by Victoria Highet) promotes the idea that even small actions can bring big benefits, no matter where we start.

As a school counsellor, Valiff has been working with children for several years, and her experience and studies (she has a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours) support her focus on helping young people build mental wellbeing and connect with the environment. Her aim is to ‘empower children to recognise that their small, everyday acts of kindness can add up, and have the power to create great change.’

In her travels around the familiar paths near her home, Noura encounters plenty of opportunities to take action and make a difference to the lives of her friends and family. It’s not until she recounts her adventures to her mother that she realises that her gestures have made a meaningful impact.

There are now plenty of books for young readers that explore themes of environmentalism and good citizenship. Valiff’s story, in addition to introducing us to a bright, positive and helpful protagonist, touches on themes of recycling, green living, social responsibility, values and virtues in a straightforward narrative that is accessible and easy to follow.

Highet’s illustrations are set apart from the text in pools of pastel colour, sometimes two or three to a page. Simple cartoon depictions of each scene feature pink-cheeked Noura in rainbow leggings, and Lentils in a matching rainbow bandana. Little details catch the eye—steam rising from the freshly baked cookies, dust kicked up by Mrs Badu’s wheelchair as she rolls down the path, the cat’s tail wrapping around the leg of Warritya, the deliveryman, as he pauses on the doorstep of Noura’s home.

Noura Saves the Planet is well-suited to its target readership and will be an appealing addition to the bookshelf.

You can purchase it from Amazon, Booksamillion, Booktopia, Discover Books, Dymocks and the author’s website.

Reviewed by Jo Vabolis
Twitter: @JoVabolis

Distributed by: Rufia Valiff
Released: August 2021
RRP: $24.99

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