SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If you’re looking for a way to explain what’s happening with the coronavirus pandemic to your children, you might want to call on Captain Corona for help.
Savannah resident Dr. Melissa Gratias developed the literary character as part of a new, free-to-download e-book called “Captain Corona and the 19 COVID Warriors.”
The productivity coach, speaker and trainer told WSAV.com NOW that she wanted to create a way for parents and teachers to help kids better understand COVID-19 and recognize that there are people working hard to prevent the disease’s spread during what is a worrying time for many.
Throughout the book, groups including medical professionals, homeless shelter workers, custodians and journalists are highlighted as the 19 “warriors” that play a role in making the current climate a little easier to navigate.
“Mr. Rogers said, ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” Gratias said.
“That’s what I decided to do,” she said. “I wanted to look for the helpers, and through that process of looking for the helpers, this children’s storybook was born.”
Now, Gratias has brought Captain Corona to life with an animated movie version of her e-book, narrated by local voice actor Akil Jackson.
The author has also released a version of the e-book featuring her reading along to her children’s story.
Gratias was inspired to develop the e-book by a kind Wal-Mart employee as she managed to grab the last bottle of hand sanitizer from the shelf.
“The last thing she said to me when I was leaving the store was, ‘Be well,’ and that really struck me and in the midst of all the stress and the worry, made me remember that I, like all of us, really need to look for the helpers to focus on the people who are real heroes and warriors right now,” Gratias said.
The author, who also published children’s book “Seraphina Does Everything” last April, said creating a book can be a months- or years-long process.
However, given the sense of urgency as more COVID-19 cases are revealed daily, it only took 10 days for her and her team, including Savannah illustrator Brittany Curry, to put the e-book together.
Gratias says she hopes the e-book will make it easier for both children and adults to communicate with one another during this uncertain time.
“We need to be as honest with our children as possible, meeting them at their developmental level,” she said. “This is a very serious situation. They know there is a problem happening, and it makes them more nervous to not know what’s going on than for us to think we are sheltering them.”
Gratias says while the book is free of charge, she encourages everyone to make donations to local organizations, including United Way and the American Red Cross, who are on the ground assisting in the fight against COVID-19.
“Captain Corona and the 19 COVID Warriors” is available for free download. To access a copy, click here.
To follow along with Gratias and her reading of her e-book, visit this link.
To view the animated movie version narrated by Akil Jackson, visit here.