In 2020, the children’s book industry hardly fathomed the notion of memorializing preschoolers wearing masks on picture book pages. We assumed a full return to childhood’s earliest school pleasures, like uncovered smiles, a shared basket of cookies around a child-sized table, and physical closeness with new friends. Clearly, this wasn't to be. Few picture books portray the mask-wearing, PCR test-taking reality of young children’s daily lives in 2022. The result: children aren’t seeing themselves reflected in their own books.
Here is where Bella and Tiger comes in. This "pop-up" publication addresses the current phase of the pandemic, when children regularly receive Covid tests to attend school. Whether testing takes place at school (like in this story), or in a sidewalk booth, a suburban drive-thru, a stadium, or a doctor’s office, the twin experiences of being swabbed and wearing a mask to school have become a regular part of children’s daily lives.
Of course, children have important feelings about this new reality. Covid testing can be invasive, unfamiliar, and frightening to young children who crave safety and a sense of control. Bella and Tiger gives voice to children's real concerns within the context of a playful story. A musical twist within the story offers a familiar song as a means of distraction, comfort and control.
Bella and Tiger was inspired by three classic children's books that feature a close relationship between a young child and a beloved animal companion, whether stuffed or real. These include: The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjorie Williams, Ellen's Lion by Crockett Johnson, and The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld.
We hope that Bella and Tiger will soon become obsolete. Until that day comes, we hope that it will offer children a chance to see their current world on the page.
Allison Sarnoff Soffer
You will need the following items:
8.5 x 11 white paper
- Print all nine pages (single-sided, landscape). You will have eight white sheets of paper plus a blue cover. Set aside the blue cover.
- Fold the white sheets in half with the text/images on the inside. Each folded page will measure 5.5 x 8.5. Align all corners. Run your fingernail down each centerfold to flatten the crease. (Important! Don’t skip this step.)
- Stack folded pages together in page order. The Dedication/Title Page goes on top.
- Glue folded pages back-to-back. Run gluestick in two straight 8 inch lines from the top to the bottom corners. Start with the back of the title page and glue it to the back of page 1. Continue with the back of page 2 and glue it to the back of page 3, etc.
- Cut the blue cover down the middle creating a front and back cover. Glue the front cover onto the back of the dedication page and the back cover onto the back of page 14.
- Make a spine with clear packing tape. Cut an 8.5 half-inch strip, align it vertically, and fold.