LONDON (Reuters) – What is this disease with a terrible cough and terrible wheeze, with a lack of air so you can’t breathe? Oh help! Oh no! It’s the novel coronavirus!
The illustrator of the Gruffalo, the story of a mysterious creature with knobbly knees and poisonous wart at the end of his nose who meets a precocious mouse he wants to eat, has teamed up with a top professor to help children understand the outbreak.
Illustrator Axel Scheffler worked with Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to produce a free digital book for 5 to 9-year-olds about how to cope with the outbreak.
Titled “Coronavirus A book for children”, the book explains the coronavirus beside Scheffler’s distinctive pictures and children are given advice on how to handle everything from boredom to stressed adults grappling with home working.
“If you live with grown-ups, maybe you can help them by
doing what you’ve been asked to do or giving them a big hug,” the book says.
“Remember, grown-ups who live with you might have to do work as well. If they do, you can help them by not disturbing them when they are trying to work.”
Scheffler said he hoped the popularity of the books he did with Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson would ensure the popularity of the coronavirus book.
“It is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis,” Scheffler said.
Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the pandemic was changing children’s lives across the globe and so they needed to understand the facts.
Beyond talk of hospitals, grandparents, medicine and sometimes bored children, the book also contains a sliver of hope.
“One day, quite soon, though nobody knows exactly when, you’ll be able to visit people you love who don’t live with you, play with your friends, go to school again and do lots of other
things that you enjoy but that you can’t do now.”
Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden; editing by Nick Macfie