CUMBERLAND, RI — The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, especially for children. Cut off from friends and classmates and unable to take part in activities and sports, many children are anxious and confused, unable to process what is happening.
One Rhode Island resident is doing her part to help through her newly published book, “Baby Big Bird,” recently featured on the Rhode Island State Police’s virtual story time.
Cole Lawlor never imagined herself as an author.
“I never thought I would write a children’s book,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic changed that. Lawlor’s wife, a teacher, had to adapt quickly to distance learning, changing the way she instructed her students while helping them understand what was happening. About six weeks ago, Lawlor was inspired to express herself through the tale of a little baby bird.
“It was a good way to get my thoughts out,” Lawlor explained. “It’s a good outlet.”
The book follows the story of Baby Bird, a young cardinal who is feeling anxious and confused, experiencing tummy aches. Baby bird’s parents explain why it’s important to stay in the nest, fly 6 feet away from others and take other precautions to stay safe. By using the bird analogy, Lawlor was able to explain the social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Rhode Island Department of Health in a way that is easier for children to understand. The book was self-published using Adobe and Barnes & Noble.
Lawlor said she chose the cardinal for the book because it is a symbol in her family and is commonly depicted as a reminder of those who have died. In the books, grandparents are referred to as “nannies and guppies,” which honors the author’s recently departed grandfather.
The book was recently featured in the Rhode Island State Police’s Virtual Story Time. Three times a week, the department uploads a video of a trooper reading a favorite children’s book. On Monday, Detective Kyle Shibley read “Baby Big Bird.”
Lawlor said she was “so honored” the department approached her about featuring her book.
“I thought it was really amazing that they wanted to get it out there and and feature a local author,” she said, calling the department and all others currently working on the front lines of the pandemic “the real heroes.”
The department sent a cruiser to Lawlor’s house to pick up a copy of the book for Shibley.
“It felt like a hero came to my house and picked up my book,” she said.
Because many families are struggling financially, Lawlor said it was important to her that the book be available free of charge. Families can read the e-book for free online or purchase a copy from Barnes & Noble, available in both hardcover and paperback editions. The e-book is also available for free from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. All royalties from book sales will be donated to charitable organizations.
“Right now, more than ever, people need to be kind,” Lawlor said. “I didn’t do this for any recognition; I just want to help other people.”
So far, the book has been well-received, with several positive reviews saying the book helped their children.
One reviewer, who titled her post “perfect and powerful messaging for children,” said the book helped her children work through their emotions.
“My children and I just love this book!” the reviewer wrote. “The author did an amazing job conveying the fears and anxiety that many children experience but struggle to express or understand. This book facilitates in explaining a particularly scary and confusing topic in a light and gentle manner while also offering intriguing illustrations are from start to finish. I would highly recommend getting a copy for your little ones.”
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