It is no secret that life with the coronavirus has made everything so much more challenging. Whether it is adjusting to this new normal, learning to work and learn from home, and having to distance yourself from friends and family, it has not been an easy transition for many.

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It especially has not been easy for our younger generation to really understand exactly why the world is so different from what they knew it as which is why “The Big Thing” team went to work. With Alex Friedman (a former senior business executive, CFO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and White House Fellow) and Angela Meng (a former journalist, investment banker and model) co-writing their story, Alvaro Gonzales illustrating, and translators make the book accessible in Spanish, Chinese, Italian, with the additions of French and Portuguese, it is no surprise to see such a positive reception from this book!


However, along with the success it has had, there were a few challenges along the way - specifically when it came to linguistics and the art of translation, as well as the art style of the children’s book as well.

When it comes to translating any text, it is so incredibly important to convey the same meaning. Jill Peng expresses just how important this would be for many Chinese kids and families, but keeping the voice that Alex and Angela created was her biggest priority.


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She found that the biggest challenge came from “finding the equivalents of certain expressions, the most important one being 'silver lining'. The closest [she] came up with was '一线光明' - a gleam of light - but it didn't speak for itself the way 'silver lining' did… [and] the title… settling on  '大问题' - the big problem.” Luckily, through further explanation in the book, the translation makes its way into understanding.

Freddy Leiva, the Spanish translator, also expresses how delicate the translation process is when keeping the richness of the text. He says that “The biggest challenge was to ensure that the core message did not get lost in the subtle nuances of language that exist in the different countries of the Spanish-speaking world.” This team continues to show just how much effort continues to go into understanding all parts of the world in how individual they can be.


When asking what challenges artist Alvaro Gonzales went through, it seemed as though Alex and Anglela’s descriptions of the world they created lent the art to itself. Alvaro comments that he “experienced visuals as soon [he] read the story, the images of Bea, her mom, dad, grandparents, teachers and classmates swirling around my head. That night [he] sketched everything out with pencil, fairly quickly, because [he] didn't want to lose it.”


Even more so was his love for creating a characters story outside of the pages. He wonders why “does Bea’s dad have a full-grown beard, why does Mrs. Eva wear her hair in violet,” and develops Bea’s parents outside of the feminine and masculine qualities with “the mom [who] likes to play chess and the dad likes plants. She has a competitive side, and he has a nurturing side.” The greatest challenge was creating these characters in only 25 illustrations, but he develops it better than anyone could have imagined.

Alvaro was recently so proud to work with The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit project to bring “The Big Thing” to their digital libraries. The project’s efforts are “reducing the digital divide between Uruguay and other countries as well as between different sectors within Uruguayan society.”


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The greatest challenge that this team has faced and conquered is making this a book to help kids understand the coronavirus and be hopeful about the future. Angela applauds children’s resilience and that they “have an enormous capacity for understanding “big” subjects, whether it may be divorce, war, or a pandemic… Every child is different, but if we have a blanket piece of advice, it would be to not be afraid to tell them about “big”, difficult subjects, empower them by being sincere and emotionally supportive.”

The challenges that we face every day do not have to be done alone, and “The Big Thing” teaches us to internalize these lessons every day. That with family and friends, hope and resilience can be found, and we can get through any situation life throws at us.


You can find “The Big Thing” available for free digitally at in four languages and counting. The team believes that any positive message for children and parents should be without charge, and any proceeds will go to COVID-19 charities to help make getting through this as easy as we can make it. To learn more about the One Laptop Per Child in Uruguay visit       



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