Today we talk about Grandma, What is Corona Virus?, a book by Sharon Ngatai published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Sharon Ngatai, to get to know her better, what was the moment that led her to the writing of her book Grandma, What is Corona Virus?, as well as all the questions she would like to hear from her readers.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Is there a particular moment in your life that led you to the writing of your book? What was that?
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30th, 2020 and a pandemic on March 11th, 2020. My life went from normal to abnormal. One day I was teaching in a classroom and the next one, I was teaching from a laptop at home. When I left home, wearing a mask became the norm. Taking nasal swabs every fortnight and hand-sanitizing became a daily habit. As I experienced these dramatic changes and emotions of sadness, uncertainty of when I will see loved ones again, being fearful, alone and lost, I began to question and wonder about the impact that this was having on children all around the world. I was concerned about the well-being of all students. Coronavirus inspired me to write a non-fiction book to give young learners an opportunity to collaborate and have conversations about their feelings, emotions and share personal experiences about coronavirus in a safe learning environment.
- What would you like to hear from your young readers?
I would love students to reflect on this book and answer the following questions:
Did you enjoy this non-fiction text? Why?
Did this text help you learn new information about coronavirus? If yes, what new fact/s did you learn about coronavirus?
Did you connect with some of the emotions that Parehuia was experiencing? If yes, what emotions did you connect with?
Did this book give you an opportunity to share your feelings and emotions about coronavirus? If yes, what emotions did you talk about?
Did this text help you to understand the feelings that your friends have about coronavirus?
Are there other things that you do to keep yourself safe from coronavirus?
How did you feel about being at home learning from a laptop? Why? Who was helping you at home with your learning?
How did you feel when you could not see your friends everyday like you use to?
How did you feel when you could not see your aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends for special occasions like your birthday and school holidays?
Would you recommend this book to a friend or family member? Why?
- How do you think is the correct way to explain to young people issues such as epidemics, wars, I mean, in general, events that can create frustration or pain?
In my view, Learning through fiction and non-fiction texts can unlock a young learner’s mind to possibility, inspire creativity, problem solving skills and making connections between the text and their own experiences. I created this text with the purpose to educate learners about the world around them and how coronavirus has affected my, their, our world. This text also gives children the opportunity to share their pain, to know it is ok to be afraid, they are not alone, share their frustrations, uncertainty, and sadness about coronavirus in a safe learning environment. It goes on to demonstrate the commitment and unity of the world’s leaders to ensure that mankind will not be defeated by coronavirus and the solutions that have been created together around the world. Solutions to this pandemic have resulted in new rules and new routines being mandated and implemented to keep schools, communities, cities and countries safe. I also designed the book to be interactive with critical thinking questions to allow children to make connections, develop new questions, engage in meaningful conversations, and to respect and listen to other’s feelings and opinions.
- How did it feel to see your book published?
A dream that comes true. In February 2021, I scribbled notes and ideas onto a servette napkin while chatting to a friend in La Brioche. Then, I went home and recorded those ideas on A4 sheets of paper and stapled them together to see the creation of a book. Next, I typed the pages, one by one, and sent it off to different publishers. After some time, a couple of publishers got in contact with me. I chose one and a beautiful journey began. I had to review the text and improve it, add new information as the world developed a range of vaccinations. I worked closely with an illustrator to give children a visual focus to coronavirus. Finally, all parts of the text were completed, and the book could be printed. It has been an amazing journey of learning, belief in a purpose that this story was written for all children of this world and a significant achievement in my life.
- Are you working on a new book?
I am so excited to share that I am working on a new story. I am looking forward to writing a narrative that includes a problem and solution. As an expatriate living in the middle east, I am inspired by the beautiful surroundings of a wonderful country that I have called home for 8 years. The middle east will be the setting and the characters will reflect the cultural identity of the country. I learn every day from my students in the classroom. They enrich me and help me to understand and make connections to their rich culture, customs and practices that will be weaved throughout my up-and-coming new story. The problem in the story will be a problem that all global students will be able to connect to and an ending that concludes the story. As the story will have a middle eastern context it will provide a marvellous opportunity for global students to learn through another culture and make connections to their own identity and cultural practices.
Europe Books thanks the author Sharon Ngatai once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Grandma, What is Corona Virus? We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish that this book will allow young readers to reflect on this dramatic moment that we have lived and are still living, despite the fact that it is turning into something else. But not only! Above all, I wish that it will permit young readers to compare their emotions and thoughts with those of the characters told in the story, and to share them out loud; I also wish young readers will develop a critical thinking that enables them to welcome those emotions, not to fear them, accept them and make the most out of them!
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy this emotional and reflective reading!