It started as a poem, filled with lines inviting readers to listen to “the whisper” and act. Then it became a children’s book with majestic owls and other airy illustrations. Now, Tom Rivett-Carnac‘s children’s book What Happened When We All Stopped has become a wistful animated poem narrated by anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall. In Rivett-Carnac’s book resides a vibrant sense of hope and an invitation to embark on a meaningful project requiring the participation of all the citizens of the world. The book was illustrated by Rivett-Carnac’s sister, Bee Rivett-Carnac, and was specifically designed to spark inspiration during the COVID-19 lockdowns and compel environmental action afterward.
Rivett-Carnac has been working on issues like climate change for the past 20 years. He is known for his work as a political strategist on The Paris (Climate Change) Agreement. He thought a book addressing some of the most challenging times in human history would be useful for children and parents alike. “As a father of two young children, I know how hard it can be to broach these subjects, which seem so abstract and alarming, but the fundamental message in this poem is one of hope,” says Rivett-Carnac. “The future is unwritten. What happens next is up to us. We who are here now get to choose how the next chapter of the human story will unfold—and we must choose well.” (The book is currently free to download online.)
Dr. Jane Goodall, who was inspired by the original poem, was eager to provide the narration. “This wonderful story helps parents and their children to overcome the disconnect between our clever brains and our loving, compassionate hearts,” Goodall explains. “We must find a way of living in harmony with nature so that both may thrive. I hope this storybook inspires people of all ages to play their part in healing the harm we have inflicted so that together we can create a new future.”
The animated video was created by TED-Ed’s animation team and breathes a new expression and urgency into Rivett-Carnac’s work. It’s just over three minutes in length, but the animation takes the audience on a vast journey of “what ifs” and an exploration into What Happened When We All Stopped. Scroll down to watch the delightful animation.
Dr. Jane Goodall narrates a children’s tale titled What Happened When We All Stopped.
Tom Rivett-Carnac’s poem comes to life in this animated feature by TED-Ed.
Watch the animated poem here:
All images via What Happened When We All Stopped.