Over the past year, Ashley Perrotti and her husband, Nick, found that explaining the pandemic to their three-year-old daughter, Grace, meant answering a lot of why’s: Why can’t we visit grandma and grandpa? Why can’t we go to school? Why do we have to wear masks?
As she carefully chose just the right words, Perrotti’s answers to her daughter’s questions took on a cadence and rhyme. In August, she wrote a poem called “During a Pandemic,” which grew into a 24-page, upbeat, lyrical children’s book with the theme that family is what matters most.
Using language that children can understand, Perrotti’s poem-turned-book highlights the pandemic’s silver linings: having more time together, being with the people you love and realizing what is most important. The book provides a comforting message to children and a helpful tool for other parents to gently answer difficult questions while putting optimism above fear.
Perrotti wrote the poem over a few days. “I didn’t sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write a book,’” she says. “It just kind of poured out of me.” She submitted her poem to Archway Publishing, which to her delight accepted it for publication. The next step was finding an illustrator, which came as naturally to her as her words did. Her stepfather, Fazal Nabbie, who also lives in Martinsville, was the perfect choice. An information technology professional by trade, Nabbie always had a creative side. “Art calms my soul,” he says.
Perrotti plans to write more children’s books, focusing on the themes of bullying and kindness for her next project. “I hope this book helps kids understand the pandemic and why we’ve encountered so many changes in our lives,” she says. “I would love for it to become a staple in elementary and intermediate schools and reach more kids.”
During a Pandemic is available for purchase on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and archwaypublishing.com.