The Big Thing is a unique new children’s book that explains the Covid-19 crisis through the eyes of a 5 year old girl, and teaches children about the idea of silver linings and how to find them in their changed lives. It is a collaborative effort of writers, artists and translators from China, the US, Latin America and Europe, and is being given away for free in English, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.
When the Covid-19 lockdown came into effect in the United States, two writers, Alex Friedman (a former senior business executive, CFO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and White House Fellow), and Angela Meng (a former journalist, investment banker and model) got together with Uruguayan illustrator, Alvaro Gonzalez, and two translators to create a story that would help children, parents and teachers across all cultures – “The Big Thing”.
Working together during lockdown via email and messaging apps, they crafted a unique and affirming story to explain to children around the world what was happening and to help them find the positives in their changed world. The team that put this together is a truly multinational group from China, the US, Uruguay and Nicaragua. The story is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.
The Big Thing is told through the eyes of Bea, a brave and adventurous five year old girl. It begins with Bea learning about Covid-19, what it is, where it came from, how it spread and why we need to stay home. From there it explores Bea’s feelings as she struggles with being cut off from her school, friends and grandparents. Through Bea, the reader experiences up close the lives of those growing up in the time of coronavirus. Then, through the help of her teacher, Bea learns about the idea of a ‘silver lining,’ and how to find them in her new day to day existence. Suddenly, she can see the positives that were hiding right before her eyes.
This is a book about finding silver linings, about family love, duty and most importantly, resilience. Bea learns about discovering the good in the bad and notices the sky turning bluer as the world slows down and our environment begins to heal. And Bea learns how to reach out to her friends, family and teacher when things get tough, because we cannot conquer fear on our own.
The book was written, illustrated and translated in record time. “We had this idea on April 1st over a Whatsapp message” says Alex, “ and within a month it was finished thanks to the work of some truly talented and special collaborators. It was a deeply healing experience to do something creative and positive for children and parents, across nationalities, in a time when it is easy to feel helpless. Now our mission is to share this hopeful message as far and wide as we can.”
To assure the story would resonate with people from all around the world, the authors chose names that are simple to say in many languages and words that can be easily translated. “A global pandemic requires a unified global response” say Alex and Angela. “This is not the time to blame others or work in isolation, but to recognize we are all as one, regardless of where we live or what language we speak. Only together will we manage through this pandemic and only together can we find the silver linings in this difficult time”.
“The Big Thing” is free to read and download on https://www.thebigthing.org/ in English, Spanish or Chinese. The book is also available on Amazon in Kindle and printed copy. All proceeds will go to Covid-19 charities.
“More than ever, we need ideas, books and arts that unite us, lift our spirits and help us through the difficulties – that is the big thing we need to collectively combat,” says translator Jill Peng. “I enjoyed translating the book for kids and families in China, not only because it’s a lovely book, but because it sends a very important universal message”
The Big Thing is a magical story, with original illustrations that will speak to children, parents and teachers alike.
Whatever your race, religion or nationality, this book will bring a hopeful smile to your face and be a helpful reminder that different nationalities can come together to find beauty in even the most difficult times.