Brookhaven resident Kevin Poplawski and illustrator Michael Rausch won $1,000 and an honorable mention prize for a picture book intended to provide children ages 6-9 with information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The duo wrote “Together: Living Life During COVID-19.” They won $1,000 from Emory Global Health Institute, which sponsored the COVID-19 Children’s E-Book Competition. The aim of the books was to reassure the children it’s OK to feel upset and reassure them that they are safe.
Poplawski and his wife Elizabeth both work in healthcare. He’s a physical therapist at Emory Healthcare Orthopedics/Sports Medicine and she’s a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Though they hear COVID-19 stories at work, many examples in the book come from their two daughters, 5-year-old Emily and 3-year-old Hailey.
“For example, one day during quarantine, Emily was looking upset and I asked her what was wrong. She said ‘Dad, I haven’t seen my school in awhile. I’m afraid it blowed down,’” he recalled.
He said they hopped in the car and drove past all the places around town she knew to reassure her.
The book starts with children feeling worried, scared and sad. They then move to understanding. By writing thank-you notes and giving her mom and dad scarves for masks, the book’s protagonist becomes empowered.
This is the third children’s book Poplawski has collaborated on with Rausch after a college professor connected them. The others include “Eli’s Magic Moment,” published in 2017, and “The Trekkers’ New Hope” last year.