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CommunityMental HealthDubai duo find pandemic positives with new children’s book 

Amid the sadness and despair of the Covid-19 pandemic there have also been an astonishing number of positive stories, from the forming of new relationships to new skills being learned and new career opportunities, too.  It was a desire to find the silver lining to the pandemic’s gloomy cloud that drove Dubai-based friends Sara Sadik and Karine Jaber to produce a children’s book called The Extraordinary Pause. The Extraordinary Pause presents the pandemic through a...
Mark LomasFebruary 10, 202211 min
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The Extraordinary PauseThe Extraordinary Pause is a children's book that looks for silver linings in the pandemic./Image courtesy Sara Sadik and Karine Jaber

Amid the sadness and despair of the Covid-19 pandemic there have also been an astonishing number of positive stories, from the forming of new relationships to new skills being learned and new career opportunities, too. 

It was a desire to find the silver lining to the pandemic’s gloomy cloud that drove Dubai-based friends Sara Sadik and Karine Jaber to produce a children’s book called The Extraordinary Pause.

The Extraordinary Pause presents the pandemic through a child’s eyes and is Sadik’s second book, following her 2018 debut Finding Magic in Mommyhood. Her words are brought to life this time through illustrations by Jaber, a previous nominee for the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award.

The pair met when their kids attended the same nursery and after regular conversations throughout the first lockdown in 2020, they created the book based on many of their own experiences. 

“This story really resonated with our reality,” Jaber tells Livehealthy. “It was therapeutic in a way. 

The Extraordinary Pause
The Extraordinary Pause

“It is an opportunity for kids to reflect on what has been, for most of them, the darkest time of their lives. But importantly it highlights that there were some amazing things that happened too — spending quality time with family, finding a better work-life balance, having time to cook more. 

“We want people to remember this time, not only for its darkness but for those little opportunities.” 

For Sadik, a focus on positivity was key after she found most of the literature aimed at children during the pandemic was driven by fear. 

“A lot of what we saw out there was very superficial and very medically focused,” the author explains. “It was ‘wash your hands, there’s a virus, it’s so scary’. 

Karine Jaber, illustrator The Extraordinary Pause
Karine Jaber, illustrator The Extraordinary Pause

“We feel children in general are smart and so we wanted something with a bit more substance. 

“The premise of the book is that there are good things to be found in any and every difficult situation. I think that is what kids show you — they are naturally inclined towards positivity.

“Yes, they missed a few birthday parties and yes, school was closed but they will always find the positives. Karine and I are also both strong believers that in any situation in life, there is a silver lining to be found. And the pandemic was no different.” 

While the pair’s publisher and book editors offered valuable support while they were working on The Extraordinary Pause, there was one seal of approval that was particularly sought after.

“I think we have had five of the best and harshest editors in our kids,” Sadik smiles. “Some versions they were like, ‘what a stupid title’ or ‘that bit doesn’t work’. They really tell it how it is.”

Jaber adds: “For us it was so important for the kids to like it because ultimately it is a book for them.

“I think children see it as a snapshot of their lives. It is not just a fantasy story, it is very much close to home. Almost like an album of their own family pictures. They can see themselves in it and that’s why it is relatable.”

Sara Sadik, author, The Extraordinary Pause
Sara Sadik, author, The Extraordinary Pause

Going from friends to writing partners could have been a stressful evolution for some, but Sadik insists the Dubai-based duo have gelled well. 

“Having such a strong friendship has created a healthy working relationship,” she explains. “Some ideas that I come up with, Karine is willing to tell me if she thinks it’s awful. 

“That’s why I knew we were on to something with The Extraordinary Pause because when I sent it to her she said ‘I love it, there’s something there’. When that’s the response it’s a major green light – that elusive illustrator’s approval!”

Sadik and Jaber are currently finalizing their second project together, a children’s book that tackles racism and acceptance through the eyes of a porcupine. But for now they are urging parents to use The Extraordinary Pause as a launching-off point for conversations about, and reflections on, the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“This has been such a remarkable, extraordinary time in our lives and it is something we have all been through,” Sadik says. 

“We wrote the book to touch people, to be something they can look back on in the future but also something they can talk about now. We’ve included a few questions for children to think about in the book and there is a code at the back for additional resources too.

“But the most important thing we want parents and kids to remember is: don’t forget to pause, breathe, and look for the light in every corner.”

• The Extraordinary Pause can be found on Amazon.ae. Follow Sara Sadik on Instagram @bysarahsadik and Karine Jaber at @this_little_individual

Mark Lomas

Mark is a Dubai-based writer who has couch-surfed through Ukraine, broken bread with football fans in Basra, and appeared on a boxing reality TV show in the UAE – all in pursuit of a good story. Or at least an average anecdote.

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