And the People Stayed Home

by Kitty O'Meara (Author)

And the People Stayed Home
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

And the People Stayed Home is a beautifully produced picture book featuring Kitty O'Meara's popular, globally viral prose poem about the coronavirus pandemic, which has a hopeful and timeless message. Kitty O'Meara, author of And the People Stayed Home, has been called the "poet laureate of the pandemic." This illustrated children's book (ages 4-8) will also appeal to readers of all ages. O'Meara's thoughtful poem about the pandemic, quarantine, and the future suggests there is meaning to be found in our shared experience of the coronavirus and conveys an optimistic message about the possibility of profound healing for people and the planet. Her words encourage us to look within, listen deeply, and connect with ourselves and the earth in order to heal. O'Meara, a former teacher and chaplain and a spiritual director, clearly captures important aspects of the pandemic experience. Her words, written in March 2020 and shared on Facebook, immediately resonated nationally and internationally and were widely circulated on social media, covered in mainstream news media, and inspired an outpouring of creativity from musicians, dancers, artists, filmmakers, and more. The many highlights include an original composition by John Corigliano that was premiered by Renée Fleming.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-6--As with the YouTube viral video of The Great Realization that became a book, this is a picture book version of O'Meara's poem from March 2020 originally entitled "In the Time of Pandemic" which was widely viewed on Facebook and beyond. Readers follow a pandemic journey beginning with quarantine: "They listened, and read books, and rested, and made art, and exercised and played games, and learned new ways of being." It continues with how the new ways of being created new ways of thinking and healing for both the people and the earth. "And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal." And lastly to the future where the pandemic's end allows the people to come together grieving their losses, making new choices, and creating new ways to live. Di Cristofaro and Pereda imbue O'Meara's words with visual context, bold color, and a global feel. The people are depicted in a wide variety of skin colors and dress. A variety of layouts, text placement, and scenery gives the poem additional depth. VERDICT A general purchase, this is a perfectly illustrated version of a poem that continues to be relevant; it could be used to launch projects writing poetry and creating art, as well as discussions of the pandemic and climate change.--Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Lib., Troy, NH

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Kitty O'Meara is the poet laureate of the pandemic...The poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak—the hope that something good can come out of this collective state of 'together, apart.' "— "O, The Oprah Magazine"
Kitty O'Meara
Kitty O'Meara lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Phillip Hagedorn, their five rescue dogs, three cats, gardens, and books. Formerly a middle school writing and literature teacher and hospital and hospice chaplain, she is currently a spiritual director and has been a lifelong writer and artist. She has been called "the poet laureate of the pandemic" based on her wildly popular, widely circulated, and hopeful poem about the Covid-19 pandemic. That poem is illustrated and presented in book form in And the People Stayed Home, her first print book, published by Tra Publishing. The Rare, Tiny Flower will be her second published print book.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
November 20, 2020

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