Nicole Connellan and Selina Chuo collaborated to create a meaningful text about our pandemic year of 2020. Here, Nicole tells us why she wrote it, and why it’s a picture book for adults (as well).
The Story of 2020: Part One
Often the best way to process events and perspectives we don’t fully comprehend, is to talk/write it out. The beauty of language is to make sense. We write to arrive at a conclusion, even if that conclusion resolves that there is no resolute answer. We get to decide whether we have closure, and to what end.
I read a handful of children’s books on COVID-19 in Melbourne’s first lockdown. Some were giddily optimistic and ‘too happy’, and others focused more on hoping for the future than the present. Most books called children ‘heroes’ for doing nothing (staying home) – which to me, is as empowering as participation awards.
This story is the acknowledgement of the pandemic. But not because children needed a narrative to wash their hands more. This book was the acknowledgement of the social ramifications within family and society. The acknowledgement of challenge and change, with permission to feel different emotions, along with a reminder that contentment can be found – if looked for.
The Story of 2020 reads like it’s a children’s book, but really, it’s for the grownups. Life has incredible potential for complication, but also simplicity. My intentions were to cut through the muck of negative media, and to present an alternative to fear and uncertainty. In a very simple way. If I could acknowledge and inspire parents, grandparents, and teachers, then they could acknowledge and inspire their children. Inspiration and perspective from our closest people always leaves a deeper impression than a single picture book ever could.
I didn’t write this because my three year old or one year old needed explanation about the pandemic. I wrote it because I wanted to lighten my mental load and process it for myself. The first verse came with ease and amusement, which was all the momentum I needed. This iso-project lifted my focus off what I couldn’t control onto the opportunities I could make of it.
It turns out, other parents agree, and preferred this as a baby keepsake to substitute an actual newspaper with 2020 birth dates. Which reiterates, this is for the big people. Though, I do sincerely hope all the children enjoy this, too.
PS: There is a Part Two in the works – and it’s loaded (true to 2020 form).
But my colleagues (*children) aren’t in agreement with productivity over play, so you’re just going to have to watch this space.