I’m a Hero Too (Jamila Rizvi, illus by Peter Cheong, Puffin)
I’m a Hero Too is about a little boy named Arty who’s feeling sad and out of sorts because his parents are acting strangely. Mum is talking in whispers and hiding behind doors, and dad is no longer wearing a suit and going to work. Arty used to play with his friends in all manner of outdoor activities—but not since a fence was erected around the jungle gym with a sign saying ‘Don’t climb on the playground’. Hanging out in cafes and visiting Granny and her dog Russell are no long on the agenda either. Yes, this is a timely picture book for kids who are confused about how Covid-19 has disrupted their lives. In this case though, Arty becomes a bit more cheerful when he realises his mum is a scientist who’s working to help come up with a ‘brand new medicine’ to combat the virus. The little boy decides to be a hero, like her, and with a face mask on he sets about doing various activities that will help eradicate the invisible disease, like washing his hands. Jamila Rizvi’s first children’s book provides gentle positive reinforcement for children who feel helpless and scared in the face of overwhelming changes. I’m a Hero Too is for preschoolers who need Covid-19 explained in language they can understand, and Peter Cheong’s illustrations are simple and bright without being too cluttered or overwhelming.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue.