British children Tom and Kate share what they’ve learned about COVID-19 and the environment in Carol Sutters’ picture book The Coronavirus and Saving the Planet.
During the pandemic, Tom and Kate’s school is closed and they are learning remotely. One of their lessons is about COVID-19 and its origins, transmission and effects. Information is delivered through dialogue as Tom and Kate tell their mother what they’ve learned and she answers their questions, adding more information.
The first half of the book is a solid child’s-eye overview of the pandemic, but the emphasis shifts when Tom and Kate’s mother explains that human expansion has moved us closer to wildlife, causing greater susceptibility to disease outbreaks. From there, the connection between COVID-19 and the rest of the book’s focus on climate change and the environment becomes more tenuous and forced, although the book offers excellent ideas for helping the environment.
When the children are asked about eco-friendly and healthful behaviors that increased during the pandemic, they list decreased car and airplane use – directly tied to pandemic lockdowns – but add that many people “cycled to work to avoid burning fossil fuel in cars,” which seems debatable as a behavior motivated by COVID. The book’s conclusion features a “What did we learn today?” checklist that includes the statement “we will all insulate our homes better to prevent heat loss” —an idea far off the pandemic trail.
Minor missteps also plague Sutters’ book. A graphic is shows a “Virus Particule,” and there’s an awkward juxtaposition when, after delivering a lengthy dissertation to her children, Mum hears a news bulletin and announces that a vaccine has been discovered. The full-color art is adequate but largely static, as many illustrations show the children looking at a whiteboard or watching a computer screen.
The Coronavirus and Saving the Planet is a noble but flawed attempt to inform and inspire children in the shadow of a pandemic.
Also available as an ebook.