“Kitty O’Meara is the poet laureate of the pandemic”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Wisdom that can help during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. She is challenging us to grow.”
— Deepak Chopra

“An eloquent, heartwarming reflection that will resonate with generations to come … encouragement for a brighter tomorrow.”
— Kate Winslet

—∞—

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.

You can watch our interview with Kitty O’Meara here.

Buy this book!

Kitty O’Meara lives in Full Moon Cottage, near Madison, WI, on a river and a bike trail with her husband, Phillip Hagedorn, their five dogs, three cats, gardens and books. A former teacher and chaplain and a spiritual director, O’Meara has been a lifelong writer and artist. And the People Stayed Home is her first print book.

 Photo © Maxi Montaño

Stefano Di Cristofaro is an illustrator and designer whose works have been widely exhibited. Raised in Venezuela and Italy, he currently lives and works in Mexico City. He has previously illustrated the children’s books Conejo y Conejo, Guachipira va de viaje and La Syona y otros cuentos de espantos. His family says that when he was little, he only stayed still if he was given a pencil and a piece of paper.

Paul Pereda is an illustrator who has primarily worked in video game development and trading card games with clients such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Atari and MTV. Born in Venezuela, he now lives in Madrid. He has been passionate about drawing since he was a child; his mother carried drawing supplies everywhere they went to keep him busy and calm.