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“When the City Went Quiet” is penned by Daybreak Primary School Assistant Principal Solina Adelson-Journey. The book follows second-grader Estelle as she learns to cope with COVID-19.

As schools were shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic last March, Solina Adelson-Journey began to see the difficulties students, families and faculty were having in regards to dealing with the crisis. As the assistant principal at Daybreak Primary School in Battle Ground, Adelson-Journey had “tough conversations” with parents, students and faculty alike about the hardships families were enduring. 

Like many of the families she talked with, Adelson-Journey felt the stress of the pandemic first hand. As a working mother with parents in their 70s, she related to the stress and experiences of numerous families who are struggling after losing jobs and childcare as well as being cautious about the infectious nature of COVID-19. Along with this, her administrative position in the school district let her see the stresses of the pandemic through the eyes of a child. Adelson-Journey used this experience to pen a children’s book, “When the City Went Quiet,” about the stresses of COVID-19 and how to cope. 

Adelson-Journey’s experience with local students who went through this past March was one of her biggest inspirations. 

“The story is told from a second grader’s perspective,” Adelson-Journey said. “Estelle talks about how she shows up for school one day and everything was normal that morning … and during that weekend, the city went quiet.”

While the book takes place in New York City, Adelson-Journey took inspiration from many of the stories she heard while talking with families, friends and parents of students during the coronavirus lockdown. Much like Estelle experiences in the book, students in the Battle Ground School District showed up for school on the morning of March 13 thinking it was just another Friday. However, by the end of the day, teachers were telling kids they wouldn’t be coming back to school for a couple of weeks, which then turned into the rest of the year. 

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The art for “When the City Went Quiet” was done by Julie Dee, Adelson-Journey’s nanny.

Adelson-Journey also pulls from experiences outside of the school system such as not being able to see friends and family. 

“In the book, Estelle also asks to hang out with her friends and her mom tells her ‘no,’” Adelson-Journey explained. “And she begins to feel lonely and sad.” 

Experiencing the repercussions of the pandemic is just one portion of the illustrated book as much of the book talks about Estelle’s emotional journey and her experience learning how to cope with the new reality. At one point in the book, Estelle has a really rough day and spends time talking with her mother about it, and they later go for a walk in Central Park. 

Teaching people of all ages ways to cope with emotions is Adelson-Journey’s biggest goal. Showing and explaining how Estelle experiences and deals with emotions can help anyone having a hard time with the emotional downfall of the pandemic. At the end of the book, Adelson-Journey has even added discussion questions and coping strategies people can use to relax. Adelson-Journey said she felt “honored” that she could write a book that will be in the hands of children and educators alike that can help them through a difficult time. 

Writing the book itself was a therapeutic process for Adelson-Journey. Once she got started on the book, she couldn’t stop. She wrote the first draft in just about three hours. She explained how writing the book down helped her deal with her stress and that she was “happy to get the story out there” for people. For her, the hardest part about writing her book was taking bits and pieces of editorial advice and making it fit into the story. The easiest part was getting the message across. 

“That came from my heart,” Adelson-Journey said about the book’s message. 

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While the book takes place in New York City, Adelson-Journey took inspiration from her time working in the Battle Ground Public Schools District.

The book is illustrated by her nanny and friend Julie Dee, who Adelson-Journey said also found the process of creating the book to be healing. Adelson-Journey said Dee gets much of her artistic inspiration from children and their experiences. 

“The purpose of this book is to help children and parents and caregivers give discussions on a historical time in our lives,” she explained. 

As for the future, Adelson-Journey said she hopes to host read-alongs and events at local gathering places once the restrictions around COVID-19 are lifted. When asked about plans for a future book, Adelson-Journey said she had no concrete plans about a sequel or future books. However, she hasn’t ruled out the possibility yet. and she’s already had a few people reach out to her. 

“(Writing a book) is a lot of work and it was a huge learning process for me,” she said. 

“When the City Went Quiet” can be purchased online at solina-adelson-journey.com/

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