It’s been a year and then some for all of us living through the COVID-19 epidemic. From masking up and washing our hands to stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions, we are a world in constant response to the pandemic. Through it all, we’ve been parenting our kids, balancing distance learning, and lockdown with the need for our kids to understand, grow, and play.
Unfortunately, the past year, and the past few weeks, in particular, have revealed an alarmingly high rise in racism toward Asian Americans and people of Asian descent. Misinformation surrounding the virus, its origins, and public statements from high-ranking officials have fueled this fire. One woman with a mission is trying to change that.
Enter Dr. Li and the Crown Wearing Virus. Author of two NY Times bestselling Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls books, Francesca Cavello wrote this book as a response to the rise in anti-Asian racism and the rampant misinformation about the virus and how it started. Illustrated by Claudia Flandoli, this book details and celebrates the important work by Dr. Li Weinlang, the Chinese doctor who was the first to bring attention and raise the alarm that a novel coronavirus was spreading in Wuhan. It also teaches children practical facts about the virus, its spread, and how to contain it. Armed with the correct information, children’s anxiety and concerns are addressed.
“As you build the future of our planet
May you always remember
This extraordinary time
When we found out
That we do not walk alone
That when one of us falls
We all fall
And when one of us rises
We all rise. “
—from Cavello’s dedication to Doctor Li’s children and to the brave children of the world.
In the story, we learn about Dr. Li, who risked being arrested to spread accurate information about the high-rate of transmission with COVID-19. Although he worked hard to identify and protect people, he was threatened, as were the doctors and health-care professionals who supported him and tried to pass on the information about how to protect yourself from the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, we meet seven-year-old May who learns about Dr. Li’s work, and his death from the virus and feels afraid. Together, with her mom’s help, they set out to educate themselves about the Coronavirus. The book itself shares practical facts, beautiful images, and reassures children with researched information.
The book itself offers a Chinese hero for children to remember, and empowers kids with knowledge.
Undercats itself is a new media company that publishes “children’s books that celebrate diversity and inspire families to take action for equality.” Look for more books coming out this fall.