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'What a difference 17 years makes'| Local authors help ease fears around giant cicada insects

Children's book helped kids overcome their fear of cicadas the last time they swarmed the area. Decades later, the book still making an impact.

WASHINGTON — The cicadas are here and these giant insects can be scary for young children.

Kita Murdock and Patsy Helmetag decided to write a children's book seventeen years ago called Cecily Cicada

"Cecily is underground for 17 years, waiting patiently. Her mother had told her that there will be a day when she just knows everything is right and she can come up," said Patsy Helmetag.

The book idea started during a long car ride while brainstorming ways to comfort their young daughter who was afraid of insects at the time. 

"My two-year-old daughter at the time was really scared of bugs, any type of bug," said Kita Murdock.

Eevee is no longer a toddler and is now a 19-year-old student in college.

"It is sort of interesting to look back at your life through these years of the cicada cycles. It really hit us that time and what a difference that 17 years makes," said Kita Murdock. 

The mother-daughter duo decided to write a children's book 17 years ago to help ease the fears in their own family.  

"So we knew that the cicada emergence was coming to D.C. and we were a little concerned about it and I said to my mom that I wish there was a way to make it fun and less scary," said Kita Murdock.

Credit: Cecily Cicada

Nearly two decades later and the book's message continues to connect with families in more ways than one.

"Certainly 17 years ago we did not predict all the changes that would happen right before this emergence. We certainly did not predict the pandemic and I think that’s also made the story feel even more poignant this time and it’s resonating with people even more in a way that of course we could not have predicted 17 years ago," said Kita Murdock. 

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As all of us emerge from the difficult winter, they said the lessons in the book still hold true all these years later.

"I feel like a message of hope and then also something we really want people to take from this book is just that the cicadas really are a miracle that they come out. They are peaceful creatures and we want people to respect them and appreciate them and just enjoy this miracle of nature," said Kita Murdock.

Knowing that the cicadas were coming again this year, they spent part of the pandemic re-illustrating the children's book. 

"I had these winter months to do a lot of things that I would not have found a time for before so I took my time and re-illustrated Cecily," said Patsy Helmetag. 

To find Cecily Cicada, click here.

Credit: Cecily Cicada
Credit: Cecily Cicada

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