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Nov. 26, 2020

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Vancouver woman processes pandemic by writing children’s book inspired by coronavirus

Educator in Battle Ground school district says her book 'opens up conversations'

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
Illustrator Julie Dee, left, and author Solina Adelson-Journey are pictured with their book, "When the City Went Quiet," in Vancouver. The friends collaborated on a children's book about the coronavirus pandemic.
Illustrator Julie Dee, left, and author Solina Adelson-Journey are pictured with their book, "When the City Went Quiet," in Vancouver. The friends collaborated on a children's book about the coronavirus pandemic. (Photos by Alisha Jucevic for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Solina Adelson-Journey, 37, felt catharsis kick in when she started writing.

On a summer night, with her two young kids tucked into bed, Adelson-Journey pumped out a first draft of a children’s book in about three hours, inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

That first draft turned into a children’s book, “When the City Went Quiet.” The book explores the pandemic from a kid’s point of view, said Adelson-Journey, who lives in Vancouver and is an assistant principal in the Battle Ground Public Schools district.

“It was my way to process everything we’ve been through the last few months,” Adelson-Journey said.

As an educator, Adelson-Journey has had hard discussions with local families about the sacrifices they’ve made during the pandemic. The book, which is illustrated by friend and nanny Julie Dee, became a form of therapy for Adelson-Journey, and now she hopes the book can help guide others through this trying year.

“It’s been difficult for everyone and traumatic for some,” she said.

“When the City Went Quiet” centers on a second-grade student named Estelle and her single mother, who live in New York City.

To Buy or Find Out More

To buy a copy of "When the City Went Quiet," or to learn more, visit: https://solina-adelson-journey.com

Adelson-Journey set the book in New York City because she wanted to explore what it would be like to live through the pandemic in a dense city, with fewer outdoor opportunities than the Pacific Northwest.

While writing the book, Adelson-Journey kept in mind her own two kids, who have stayed distant from their grandparents. She also thought about the dozens of kids in her school district who made similar or more significant sacrifices.

Even though inequities always exist in education, the pandemic has widened that gap, Adelson-Journey said. Learning has become much harder for students who don’t have easy access to the internet, speak English as a second language or are special education students.

“The inequities have become really glaring,” Adelson-Journey said.

Coping techniques

Along with the help of Kathryn Burke at San Juan Publishing, based in Colorado, Adelson-Journey was able to sell 100 copies of the books in the first two weeks of its release.

In addition to the narrative story of Estelle and her mother navigating the pandemic, the book also offers coping techniques to families, who are struggling with more isolated lives.

Adelson-Journey said she struggled with loneliness and being overwhelmed during the first few months of the pandemic.

“This book is a resource to help parents and educators as a way to talk. It opens up conversations,” she said. “I wrote it to help the kids, but it’s helping families.”

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