Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Virus?
With so many different messages about the coronavirus pandemic flying around it’s no surprise that young people may be feeling confused and anxious. We’re very pleased to introduce this accessible guide to understanding what the coronavirus is, how it affects different people and how to stay safe. The book’s easy-to-read text is perfect for children and the fun illustrations encourage questions and positive discussion. A terrific resource for families and schools!
It may sound bizarre but the idea for the book came to me in a dream. It was back in March 2020, before we went into the first lockdown, and my teenage daughter came downstairs unable to sleep as she had been reading horror stories about the virus online. After I’d explained to her how our immune systems work and that, for the majority of us, having the virus might be unpleasant but wouldn’t be life threatening, she went to bed in a calmer state. It struck me how many parents of even younger children may lack the words or understanding of what a virus actually is and how our immune systems work to reassure their children in the same way.
So much of the narrative about the virus was about fear and the threat ‘out there’, and I wanted to flip it and reclaim some power in a situation in which we all felt powerless. The book aims to give children a greater understanding of the basics of our incredible immune system and what we can do to support it, and also explain why some people might need greater protection.
After dreaming up the format, I sat at my desk in pyjamas and scribbled down most of the book in one go. I wanted something that would calm parents and in turn calm their children. It was important to me to produce a physical book that people could read together while snuggled up in bed or on the sofa, with simple information and images accessible even to younger readers.
The strange and uncertain feelings that the pandemic produced gave me a sense of ‘can do’ and the courage to try to put the book out there, even if it only helped a handful of children. My usual negative self-talk was dismissed and, despite having no experience of writing for children or knowing how a book gets published, I pushed ahead. I read articles and blog posts on how to self-publish and asked around for illustrators who might help.
I take such joy from the illustrations in books and it was important that this book had great images that were key to the story. The good will demonstrated by all those who helped get the book made was incredible, as everyone gave their time for free and kept the enthusiasm going – it is a testament to teamwork.
Maya Oakley is a Nutritional Therapist based in North London. She has a keen interest in mental health and how diet and lifestyle can impact how we feel, and a passion for inspiring people to cook and enjoy healthy foods.