Parents who are able to remain calm and creative when communicating with children despite our era's intensity of frustration are very inspiring. The Mama in this book is an example of this kind of patient creativity.
What it does
A time of pandemic is like being stuck in a strange place when all you want to do is go home. Jamie's conversation with their Mama transforms the limbo state into a fantasy land, where Jamie is a superhero, houses are like Martian colonies, and social distancing acts as a force field. Entering into a mythical view of our current reality offers escape, while reinforcing safe behaviors and reassuring children that work is underway to make things better soon.
CDC guidelines are provided at the end for adult readers to reference.
How I built it
I wrote the first drafts in Microsoft Word, and included illustration notes for each page. The document was passed along to my fabulous illustrator, Dan Hayes, who sent back initial character sketches developed in Procreate, which we tweaked. While Dan worked on the drawings, I ported the text into Microsoft PowerPoint, which I've learned how to use as a layout package (because so many of it's features work the same way Microsoft Publisher does. Or at least, used to.) I scoured the interwebs for free commercially available fonts which fit the feel of the drawings, and played with options until I was happy with how it looked. Then I edited endlessly, and incorporated Dan's drawings once they were complete.
Challenges I ran into
My wife discovered the contest about 10 days ago, so time was a challenge! I'm an author and have done a fair amount of book design and layout projects previously, so the technical challenges were relatively minimal. Luckily information about safe practices is readily available, so double checking the details wasn't difficult.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Hmmm... not sure if this means in career, in life, or for this book! I'm super proud of being a mom, of my growing body of work which makes a difference in the world, and for daring to restart life midway through.
For this book specifically, I'm proud that Dan and I were able to pull it off in a short period of time, and that it looks pretty darned polished considering the rush.
Jamie's name and picture are intentionally non-gendered, so kids of any gender can feel like they are represented. Featuring persons of color was also important. I'm proud of how we tried to widen accessibility for readers through these efforts.
What I learned
I learned that with enough persistence you can make simple tools do somersaults. And I learned that the right illustrator can make a project seem easy. I also noodled my way through the DevPost Hackathon process! Woohoo!
What's next for Jamie the Germ Slayer in a place called Little While
My wife is a social media strategist who will do her best to get the book in front of readers so kids can be reminded of what they need to do, and be reassured that things will get a lot closer to normal, eventually.
We also hope to create a downloadable coloring book from the line drawings.
Thanks for holding this contest! Doing so has resulted in a significant pool of books for parents and educators to use as they walk kids through this new normal.