TORONTO -- It started as a passion project, and before long Daniela Rumeo had a published children’s book on her hands.

“It was really born out of a breakfast conversation that we had with our two-and-a-half-year-old son,” she told CTV News Toronto. “We were trying to explain to him some of the activities that we weren’t going to be able to do because of the quarantine, while sort of positively focusing on the things that we could do as a family.”

Rumeo wrote ‘When the world got sick’, a rhyming story about two young brothers navigating life’s changes during the pandemic.

“They learn about being a great part of their community and great neighbours,” she said. “It’s been inspired by a lot of the things that we did ourselves. How we as family tried our best to do our part in staying home.”

The colourful illustrations were created by Daniela’s husband, Michael.

“I had some ideas of when she was reading the story, I could see images in my head,” he told CTV News Toronto. “I just used my iPhone and I had a stylus pen lying around and I started drawing and it came out great.”

‘When the world got sick’ focuses on positive parts of the pandemic, but the last few months have also brought the Rumeo family pain.

“During this time we unfortunately lost my grandmother to COVID-19,” Rumeo said. “And so this project has been personally important to me, as it’s dedicated to her.”

She also hopes that the book will serve as a reminder of ‘Nonna Mimi’ to her sons.

“We read it together, he’ll say ‘oh, this is our family book’ and it’s a great way to continue for them to connect with her in a way that children can,” Rumeo added.

The couple is selling the book and donating proceeds of ‘When the world got sick’ to front-line health-care workers.

Daniela Rumeo

While the story is about their own family experience, the Rumeos hope that children everywhere will be able to relate to it.

“We really hope that those timeless messages of community, and sticking together in time of crisis, really resonate with families across the country,” Rumeo said.