ATLANTA — Schools shut down and everyone was sent home. No one knew what quarantine was or how long it would last, and it was happening all over the world.
Emory Global Health Institute created a children’s book contest to explain the pandemic. A Brookhaven author jumped in to write the book aimed at reassuring children, including his own.
“Almost in tears she said, ‘Dad, I’m afraid my school blowed down.’ And that’s how she said it and I said, ‘What do you mean Emily?’ and she goes, ‘Well I haven’t seen my school in a while,” Author Kevin Poplawski.
That experience with Poplawski's 5-year-old daughter came to life in the pages of the book ‘Together: Living Life during COVID-19.’
Poplawski is a physical therapist for more than 20 years and he began writing three years ago. Encouraged by his wife, a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, he entered an Emory Global Health Institute contest.
“The whole premise of the contest was, how do we help kids understand what is going on with this pandemic?” Poplawski said.
With more than 400 entries from around the world, Poplawski earned “honorable mention.” In just two weeks, with illustrator Michael Rausch, they brought ‘Olivia’ to life.
“So he did about an illustration a day and I was heavily into edits every day,” Poplawski said.
Two prior kids books took a year each, but with fewer patients to see during the pandemic, he had time to write the book geared toward children ages 6 to 9.
“I drew on a lot of my own experiences with my own children to be able to explain those different areas of fear and worry that kids were feeling,” Poplawski said.
Those emotions led ‘Olivia’ to empowerment – to feel like a helper, with something to contribute during this uncertain time.
“They don’t know what this world right now is about. Neither do we, but hopefully this kind of helps to explain things a little bit,” Poplawski said.
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