Perry and Steve’s New Normal: Life During COVID-19
Adults in the United States have pretty much been left on their own to cope with COVID-19 — any wonder liquor stores were deemed essential merchants and cocktail recipes have proliferated online? — but children have the security of books to guide them through this scary time. MaryLou Quillen’s Perry and Steve’s New Normal is just the picture book to guide scared children ages 3 – 6 through the coronavirus and quarantines.
Young Steve is looking forward to his pirate-themed birthday party, but as he’s watching his favorite show, a news flash interrupts to alert viewers that coronavirus has been detected in the community, and all families should stay home to ensure their safety. Steve’s dad, Perry, is just returning from the store (with a basketful of toilet paper) when Steve rushes to tell him the news and ask, “What’s a virus and where should we hide?”
Perry says he’ll be glad to answer all of Steve’s questions, so he first wants to know why his dad was wearing a mask as he entered their igloo. Perry explains that the mask helps protect their friends and children when he goes to the store, which is the reason why they’ve been staying home, and Steve hasn’t seen any of his friends recently.
Now Steve wants to know when he’ll be able to return to Penguin Academy, and while Perry can’t give him an exact date, he explains that this “new normal” means everybody must stay apart. Handwashing and sneezing into clean tissues are essential too, as well as coughing into his sleeve or flipper “because that helps others stay healthy.” Perry also reminds his son that he should try to avoid touching his face, because that keeps the virus from spreading, even though it’s hard not to touch your face. After all, what if your nose itches?
Steve agrees he can do all these things — he even understands that his pirate party will have to wait until the virus is gone — which means he’ll visit his friends online from home. Perry knows social distancing will make his son feel lonely and lets him know he’ll always be available for a hug, because he’s safe and loved, so “together, we’ll make it through!”
Perry compares the time they have to spend at home social distancing to a long winter’s night (sound familiar?) and promises his son that “our best days are ahead, Steve / That’s my promise and my pledge to you.” And the last picture is of father and son dressed like pirates and enjoying pirate games.
MaryLou Quillen’s rhyming book explains the sudden arrival of COVID-19 and recognizes that all the new behaviors and restrictions required to stay healthy can be frightening to children. However, with an aid like Perry and Steve’s New Normal, even the most frightened child will be soothed and settled in the face of the new normal.
Perry and Steve’s Summer Staycation
Perry is up with the summer sun, tickets in hand to leave for summer vacation with his son, Steve. But the little penguin surprises his dad with the simple words, “I don’t want to take a trip.” Since he’s worked hard learning to read, he’d now like to stay home and learn to cook. Perry agrees and announces, “We can do a summer staycation!”
Steve wants to visit the store for fruit and other goodies, which gives Perry an idea: they’ll grow their own vegetables! He shows his son how to plant peas and carrots; when Steve asks to grow his favorite fruit, strawberries, Perry tells him strawberries don’t grow well in the cold climate where they live, but what about broccoli?
After gardening, they’re ready to hit the water! Perry pulls out surfboards and teaches his son to ride the waves, then they go skateboarding to learn how penguins fly. Their next stop is the boat dock, where they go canoeing and snorkeling.
By this time, Perry is tired and lounges in a beach chair with a refreshing drink, but Steve is upset. “You promised me that I could cook / And that’s something I’d like to do / How did you forget so fast? / I was really counting on you.” Not a father to ignore a pledge, Perry jumps up, puts on his chef’s hat, and fires up the barbecue, promising to start with hot dogs and then letting Steve pick a recipe from the cookbook. Steve chooses s’mores, since they have all the ingredients, and father and son end their day not just as relatives, but as friends.
MaryLou Quillen has written a delightful book about the happiness families can find at home, even when they have the opportunity to go elsewhere. Perry and Steve’s Summer Staycation is the perfect companion to the Perry and Steve book about the coronavirus.