Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Lifelong friends break down coronavirus in children’s book

Published:Friday | April 17, 2020 | 12:23 AMDanae Hyman/Gleaner Writer

Realising the struggle to educate their sons about the novel coronavirus and that other parents worldwide are possibly facing the same challenges, two lifelong friends have teamed up to release a children’s book, Coronavirus: Get Outta Here! aimed at making lessons about the pandemic easier for children to understand.

Both creative entrepreneurs, author Peter Ivey and illustrator Andrew Blake said that although the books were dedicated to their nine-year-old sons, their mission was to provide child-friendly information about the virus for young ones across the globe.

“My son, PJ, is very curious. He asks a lot of questions,” Ivey said, “and when this coronavirus thing started to get serious, he started to ask all these questions where I had to sort of educate myself to try to figure out what to tell him. The stuff that I was coming up with, I just did not know how to prepare my son for that.

“Yes, he is mature for his age, but what exactly am I going to tell him? Do I want to include the death toll? These are not stuff I want my son to be exposed to at this age,” he added.

Ivey said that he then contacted Blake and pitched the idea for a book. His friend was immediately sold, admitting that it could greatly help him and his child as well.

Twenty minutes later, the story was finished and Blake began illustrating the characters.

“At first, the book wasn’t free, but then I realised that there is one thing we are consistent with and it’s that we are not money-driven, and most of our projects have a social aspect to it,” Ivey said. “When we really thought about who we really wanted the book to reach, we thought that in these times of a pandemic, the people who we want to get it won’t have access to it. After a few days, we decided, ‘let’s leave it for free so people around the world can see it’.”

With the book explaining everyone’s role in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and advising children to sing the happy birthday song each time they washed their hands to ensure that it took 30 seconds, Blake said that his son can now be heard singing each time he washes his hand.

He said it also brought him great joy when he realised that his son could read and understand almost every word in the book.

With almost three decades worth of friendship, the duo had worked on many previous projects. One such initiative is the Mission Food Possible charity, which was dubbed by Forbes magazine as the possible answer to the world-hunger crisis.

Ivey, who is also a chef, shared that as part of this charity, he is planning to start sharing his expertise online about what people should be eating and recipes for certain dishes.