A new illustrated children's book by a local author called "Panda Demick" highlights how the pandemic has, in some ways, been beneficial for Planet Earth.
John Shay is a retired Earth scientist and technology entrepreneur who wrote a book called "Panda Demick" shortly after his grandson, Kai, was born in March, right around the time that the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
“That juxtaposition of becoming a grandfather while seeing this new child born into this world facing the challenges of what the pandemic highlighted, that juxtaposition inspired me to write this story,” he said. “I was thinking, how do I explain this to my grandson, Kai?”
The story is about a panda named Demick who can speak with other animals, humans and even the tiny coronavirus. The panda learns that the earth has been suffering. Whales are swimming in oceans filled with plastic. Honeybees are struggling. An eagle injured his wing crashing into a mountain he couldn’t see because it was shrouded in smog.
But the coronavirus forces everyone to slow down, spend time with family, ride bikes and drive less. The pollution starts to go away.
Shay said he wanted to help kids see the positives about quarantine life.
“Life was so busy before. We were so out of balance in our lives,” he said. “In a sense, the coronavirus forced us into a timeout.”
The full-color illustrations by Jenny Zandona, a local artist, include pictures of a giraffe and hippo wearing face masks and people flying kites and gardening.
“Slowing down and taking the time to breathe, the time to listen to each other and also listen to those that are in need and help those in need — that’s the lesson that Demick brings to his friends and to his family and everyone around him,” Shay said.
And now, the flicker of an idea Shay had earlier this year is a book that he can sit down and share with his grandson.
“Kai loves the book,” he said. “We sit down every time he comes over and we read it.”
"Panda Demick" is available locally at Third Place Books Seward Park in Seattle. It also can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.