This picture book explores the Covid lockdown in a creative and open way that also allows it to speak to other times of darkness that families experience. Covid is shown as a storm that hits and is unlike any other storm, one that forces you to be inside for an unknown length of time. The family struggles with their new time together in a house, going from feeling strange to people getting angry and staying apart from one another. That’s when the storm rumbled and lightning struck, knocking the power out. One candle lit against the darkness brought the family together. The next morning felt different with pancakes and board games and a new way forward even though they were still caught in the storm. Then one day, the sun came out again. It was possible to go outside and start cleaning up.
As I mentioned, this picture book speaks deeply to a variety of dark times felt by a family. The family goes through a complete grief cycle on the page, allowing the book to be about the loss of a parent just as easily as it is about Covid. It’s a beautiful accomplishment of writing, speaking to the universal rather than the specific and allowing us all to see the grieving process as part of Covid too.
Yaccarino often does light-hearted titles, but this one has a lot of emotions that flow across the page. He uses color and expressions to convey many emotions from the anger of being together to the loneliness of being together but separate to the relief of finding joy in one another once more.
A powerful look at Covid and loss that will speak to all of us. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Vy rushes in the morning to reach the line to get rice. She is running late, but still gets a spot. Set in Vietnam during Covid, she wears and mask and stands in line on the marked spot to be socially distanced from others. The line is very long and everyone is tired. Ahead of her in line is a woman with a baby and a small boy. Vy sings to the baby, a lullaby to get him to settle. She reads the little boy a poem of rice and rain. Then the two of them draw a picture together that they give to an older woman in line. Vy lets the woman go ahead of her in line, but when Vy reaches the end, there is no more rice. But the small kindnesses she performed in line come back to her in rice for her family.
Trinh tells this story with a real grace. She shows the poverty and need with frankness while also showing how small acts of kindness in the midst of a pandemic can make all the difference in people’s lives. The story has a genuine quality to it, the acts of kindness are thoughtful and realistic as is the final sharing of rice amongst everyone who was impacted by Vy’s kindness. The text is written in a mix of narration and speech bubbles, combined with poetry and song lyrics.
Shelvin’s illustrations embrace the mixtures of texts, highlighting the song and poem with freshly bright colors of bright pinks, yellows and blues. The majority of the book is done in a subtle color palette with golds, pale blue and gray.
A quiet and lovely look at the pandemic and everyday kindness in a crisis. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
This picture book captures the experience of the Covid pandemic as we are all stuck in a place in between for months. It is a place where school is on the other side of the computer screen, where windows separate us from neighbors. But it is also a bright place, full of praise for the heroes who kept us going, phone calls with grandparents. It is a place of light, of sunsets, of time spent outdoors together. It is a place of loss, sadness and comfort. It is a storm that promises a rainbow tomorrow.
Told in simple poetic phrases, this picture book takes a frank look at the changes the pandemic brought us. While it could have stayed focused on the distance, instead it turns it around and shows the new ways we connected with others, with nature and with the promise of the future. This picture book sets just the right tone of respect for those who were lost, seriousness about the nature of the pandemic, and joy that it may pass and bring us somewhere beautiful.
Snider’s illustrations are done in bright colored pencil. The characters are whimsically drawn, while the urban landscape glows on the page. The book offers rainbows of color long before the literal one arrives at the end of the book.
Timely and quietly full of joy. Appropriate for ages 3-5.