Lyrical reassurance in the face of illness or pandemic, spun off from a viral video: “Well, sometimes you get sick, my boy, / before you start / feeling better.”

With similarly daft logic—not to mention frequent disregard for regular meter and rhyme—Roberts tells a favorite bedtime story to two children. Back in 2020, the text relates, corporate greed (“our leaders taught us why / it’s best to not / upset the lobbies— / more convenient to die”) and feelings of loneliness brought about by our addiction to screens and social media were transformed into a healthier “work-life balance” while hiding away from the virus. “We started clapping to say thank you / and calling up our moms. / And while the car keys gathered dust / we would look forward to our runs.” Emerging from this rather radically simplistic isolation scenario to a fresher, less-plasticized world led to the titular epiphany, the exact nature of which readers are left to figure out. Along with Americanized spelling and a few unnecessary changes in line order and wording, this version of the poem comes with restrained, sparely brushed watercolor illustrations of, mostly, stylized human figures rendered in a range of hues from paper white (the narrator and children) to shades of brown and pale blue or green.

Readers may be affected by the optimistic tone, but the words sound darker, even disturbing, themes.

(Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-306636-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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