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Inspiring poem of the pandemic 'And the People Stayed Home' becomes heartwarming children’s book

Chelsea Ciccone, BookTrib on

Published in Parenting News

It’s all too easy to let disappointment and loss speak the loudest as we reflect on this past year. We’ve felt disconnected from everything — our routine, our loved ones, our sense of normalcy — but being the innovative and resilient creatures that we are, we’ve adapted. We’ve fostered new connections, learned to roll with the punches and created a new normal. We’ve grown. We’ve changed and the world has too.

Earlier this year, at the start of the pandemic, Kitty O’Meara found herself thinking about people and the planet. She imagined what might happen during and after this global change, and then she wrote a poem. She shared her heartfelt words with her friends on Facebook, and in the blink of an eye, the poem went viral. People she’d never met before, people on the other side of the world, had read her words and loved them. Now, several months later, her viral poem has become the heartwarming, hopeful children’s book "And the People Stayed Home" (Tra Publishing).

O’Meara’s poem explores the global coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for growth and healing. People have slowed down. They’ve spent time with themselves, with their loved ones. They’ve listened and they’ve learned, and life has taken on a new vigor despite this moment of separation. And after they’ve had time to heal themselves, they look to the world outside — the one they have neglected.

“And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.”


Stefano Di Cristofaro and Paul Pereda’s beautiful illustrations depict compassion and a sense of unity between the people and the planet. We see people nurturing plants, showing kindness to wildlife and creating a new world — one that’s calm, playful and full of life.

Above all, O’Meara captures one pivotal aspect in a year that has felt like no other. She writes, “And the people began to think differently” — and we have. Despite everything this year has thrown our way, O’Meara reminds us that the world changes when we do, that we’re the ones in control. Change isn’t easy, but we’re creative, tough and persistent. We’ve got this.

It’s no surprise that her words caught the attention of millions. Hope swells in your chest as you read them. They’re inspiring, empowering even. She has given the world a small piece of joy — painted a silver lining onto a dark cloud and transformed uncertainty into possibility — and I, like so many others, am grateful.

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