LaSalle Children’s Author Pens Book
Showing How Kids Are Coping With COVID-19
Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by Shannon Stradeski
Children’s author, Pam Stradeski’s latest book, Corona Virus Came to Town, has the deceptively simple title of a fable.
It was during a routine medical check-up that her doctor told the 61 year old LaSalle-based writer that the coronavirus (known also as COVID-19) was the real deal. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life, saturated by the 24/7 news cycle, that the emergence of other such viruses in recent years—SARS, MERS, avian and swine flus—appear to have been overhyped by the media.
Not this time, as the world has learned.
“I have COPD,” Pam says, “and I remember my doctor saying to me in March, ‘You’re still babysitting, aren’t you?’ I have been doing childcare for twenty-five years, so I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘You might want to stop babysitting and stay home for two weeks,’ he said.”
Two weeks turned into two months and Pam thought to herself, “OK, this isn’t going away.”
So, she began a pandemic project: a children’s book about the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wondered how it would all affect the children,” Pam explains, “especially my grandchildren, and the little ones I babysat.”
She conducted her research during Facetime calls and driveway visits. To her surprise, she found out the kids were doing better than she expected, adapting, making the best of the situation.
“They were having more time at home with mom and dad,” Pam continues. “They were baking, having picnics, and creating obstacle courses in their backyards because they couldn’t go to the park. So, I wrote a book for them to look back on this time and remember what it was like for them.”
The book, itself, took a few days to write. The story is straightforward.
“Basically, the story is how the coronavirus came and changed things,” Pam says. “It’s from a child’s perspective. I talk about things you can’t do—like playing with friends, going to the mall—while showing the activities the kids engaged in, instead, like turning their backyards into playgrounds. Plus, the bonus time with family and being creative.”
The book is brief and to-the-point, aimed at an audience that is between pre-school age and Grade 2. The coronavirus is depicted as a small, green, cartoonish monster. The colourful illustrations show children amusing themselves at home, retaining a positive attitude about life under such trying circumstances.
Pam wrote the book with a sing-song rhyming rhythm, knowing that kids respond well to that kind of storytelling. For example: “We couldn’t go to parks or beaches, or the mall, restaurants or cousin’s house. But we could Face Time call!”
Although the text took a few days to write, creating the illustrations was a months-long process Pam undertook with her niece, Key Howe, a graphic who lives and works in London, Ontario. “I drew my version of the coronavirus,” Pam explains. “It was friendly-looking, but the eye was the virus. Key changed that, making it look more friendly, and put the virus on the end of its tail. I liked her drawing much better than mine. She totally gets me and all my ideas.”
The collaboration process involved “lots of back-and-forth on the computer,” as Pam recalls.
When she finally received a printed copy of her new book, Pam created a video of her reading it and showing the illustrations. She posted the video on her Facebook page, thinking a few friends and family might be interested in obtaining copies. The response to the book was immediate and more overwhelming than Pam could have anticipated.
“We sold out the first hundred copies of the book in two days,” she says. “I ordered another two hundred copies and most of those are gone.”
The feedback about the book, too, has been uniformly positive, readers posting on Pam’s Facebook page: “Love it!” “It’s great!” “Can I have 6 more!” and the comment that says it all: “Wow you turned something crap[p]y into something that kids can understand.”
The Facebook post ultimately garnered 87 comments—many of them book orders, all of them congratulatory—and 25 shares. Word of the book spread quickly and local media even picked up the story. The Windsor Star paid Pam a visit soon after.
Pam is circumspect. “Kids are very resilient,” she observes.
She says that she was inspired to leave something behind for her grandchildren. Although the story reads like a sing-song nursery rhyme, Pam was able to capture many of the realities of coronavirus pandemic, namely the shortages of toilet paper and disinfectant wipes in the early weeks of the lockdown.
When asked if there are any plans for a sequel, Pam says, “Probably not for this
particular book because it came out just as I wanted.”
As the author of four previous children’s books, Pam is looking ahead, already working on her next book. “I have a new one in the works,” she explains. “My grandchildren are a great audience and I read them parts over Facetime and outside visits.”
Having written a book about the coronavirus coming to town, it seemed natural to ask Pam when she thought it would leave.
“I have no idea,” she says. Like everyone else, she’s adhering to all safety proto-
cols and hoping for the best with regard to the creation of a vaccine to combat COVID-19.
The book sells for $6.
People interested in buying a copy can contact Pam Stradeski directly on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pam.stradeski.