THE EXTRAORDINARY PAUSE

With a minimal but meaningful text and naïve illustrations in a limited palette, the book focuses on an unnamed child who lives with their parents through the strange time when the virus, depicted as a bipedal, rusty-red monster, appears. “The world changed overnight. Schools were closed. Restaurants were emptied. Birthday parties were postponed.…And all the world’s swings, seesaws and slides were abandoned.” The main characters, who also include the child’s grandfather, are White; other humans depicted are racially diverse. To signal the universality of the virus, small vignettes of different countries are included, with well-known monuments like the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben as well as, in a rather stereotypical shorthand, giraffes and camels. In some of the city scenes, signs in different languages are posted about stores and restaurants. As time goes on, after the new reality of “the extraordinary pause” settles in, eventually there is hope. “There was loneliness, but also connection. Light was starting to shine between the cracks.” There is nothing specific about the illness itself or the worldwide deaths, but this short picture book speaks directly to young readers about the many life changes that happened as a result of Covid-19 in ways they will comprehend. Discussion questions at the book’s close encourage reflection, and a QR code will take readers to a resource page for further engagement. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

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