“Some people wear masks,
in public you might see.
It’s to stop the virus,
from jumping to you and me.
When the virus is about,
listen to what the doctors say.
They might say to social distance,
to keep the virus away.”
~~ Vicki Schofield, Anti-Virus Heroes
We are living in extraordinary times. COVID-19 has utterly disrupted every aspect of our lives: travelling, socializing, working, playing, entertaining, shopping, exercising, everything. It is a confusing and uncertain time for everyone, but even more so for the very youngest among us. They don’t understand why everyone now has to wear masks. They don’t understand why everyone is suddenly concerned if they’ve used hand sanitizer or how long they’ve washed their hands. They don’t understand why their parents are now working from home, or perhaps not working at all. And worse, they don’t know if or when it will end, whether they will ever be able to freely play and visit with beloved family members and friends again — without distance, without masks, without hand sanitizer.
Six months into this pandemic, they likely can sense adult weariness too, so that only amplifies their confusion and feelings of powerlessness. That is why I am so grateful for Vicki Schofield’s new book in her Ben and Marty series, Anti-Virus Heroes. A Stratford, Ontario, author and illustrator, Schofield identified a real need to accurately explain to young children about COVID-19 transmission and prevention, but in an upbeat, reassuring manner that would empower, not overwhelm, them.
Using a super hero theme and simple, rhyming prose, Schofield was determined to “focus on the positive steps we can all take.” I was particularly amused when she explained social distancing like this:
Keeping six feet apart,
is the right way to go!
It’s a little longer than a llama,
in case you didn’t know.
Schofield’s bright colours and distinctive cartoon illustrations also create a friendly, inviting experience for young readers. I was impressed with the gender equity and racial diversity in her illustrations — people of different races were represented, the doctor was female and the nurse and teacher were male, for example. Schofield’s website identifies inclusive as one of her values and that is certainly reflected in this book. I would encourage Schofield to consider including people with various disabilities in future works, to even more fully represent diversity in all its forms.
Ideal for kids in Grade 2 and younger, I would highly recommend Anti-Virus Heroes as a read-aloud for teachers and parents alike: the content is relevant, the illustrations are engaging and the rhyming verses lend themselves well to repeated readings during circle time, bedtime or anytime.
Her books are available through Amazon.