Prince Harry has written the foreword to Hospital on the Hill, an upcoming book by author Chris Connaughton. The book reportedly tells the story of a young person whose parent worked—and died—on the frontlines of a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. The royal’s introduction discusses the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12 years old.
The article reminded me of the pandemic-themed picture books I’ve seen over the past year. The first ones published focused on viruses, handwashing and mask-wearing, often comparing the latter to being a superhero. However, in recent months, a selection of books has been published that are, perhaps, more subtle about how the lives of little ones have changed over the past year.
LeUyen Pham’s Outside Inside is a wonderful example of this shift. The book is not about the science of the pandemic—the word virus is never even mentioned. Instead, it talks about how most of the world went inside because “it was the right thing to do.” It shows essential workers on the job. It shows families inside playing games. It honors sacrifice and loss as well as the quality family time gained by this most unusual season.
And the People Stayed Home by Kitty O’Meara furthers this idea. The story, based on a poem O’Meara wrote that went viral on the internet, starts in the middle of the pandemic—the middle of a thought. It imagines people slowing down, and the earth slowing down and healing because of it. The book also moves beyond the pandemic, imagining a time when people can safely get back together, mourn losses, and make better choices.
Poor Hedgehog, star of Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar’s While We Can’t Hug. He’s so prickly he can’t hug best friend Tortoise, whose shell also makes hugging quite complicated. Luckily, there are many other ways for the duo to show their affection for each other. Waving, blowing kisses, making funny faces…the options are endless!
Finally, the worldwide nature of the coronavirus pandemic is stressed in Windows by Patrick Guest, a medical worker who had to isolate from his family due to his son having elevated risk factors. Children from windows throughout the world voice the tale that proves we are all looking out…together.
What books have brought you calm and solace during this time?
This post addresses the core competency of IV. Knowledge, Curation, & Management of Materials.