• LB Strong

Creative Neighbors Collaborate on Children's Book about COVID-19

By Fern Schumer Chapman

For the last four weeks, I have ached to see my young granddaughter, Harper. Sheltering-in-place can be heartbreaking for family members who routinely see one another. It’s especially challenging when the child is too young to understand the sudden cutoff. I wanted to create a picture book to explain to young children why they can’t see some of their beloved family members.

I came up with the story and the text, but I couldn’t think of anyone who had the skills and the availability to illustrate the book quickly. (I had no idea how long we would be sheltering-in-place, and I feared the book might not be as relevant when the restrictions are lifted.) I thought and thought about who might create the illustrations, but I came up blank.

Then, one day while walking up our shared driveway, I looked over at my neighbor’s house and thought, “Phoebe!” I remembered I had seen some of Phoebe Chandler Turner’s work years ago and loved her style. That was the beginning of this wonderful partnership.

Phoebe’s colorful, delightful illustrations bring the story to life. The book captures the disruption in the cherished routine of a grandmother and granddaughter due to the virus. When the two can only see and hear each other electronically, the confused child wonders why she and her grandmother aren’t really together.

Fern Schumer Chapman loves reading with her granddaughter Harper.

Lake Bluff's Phoebe Turner is a talented artist and illustrator

Writing Happy Harper Thursdays helped me to feel close to Harper at a time when I couldn’t be with her. But, there is another reason I wrote this book. I know from my mother’s early life experiences that children often think they are responsible for events that have nothing to do with them. In 1938, my grandparents made the most painful decision any parent could face. To save their 12-year-old daughter’s life, they chose to send her from Nazi Germany to America all by herself. My grandparents did not survive. For decades, my mother was stuck in a 12-year-old’s broken heart, believing her parents had sent her away because they didn’t love her. With that in mind, I wrote Happy Harper Thursdays to help my granddaughter understand this difficult separation.

The paperback for Happy Harper Thursdays can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for $9.99, and the hardcover is available for $14.99. AppleBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and several other-book platforms are offering the ebook for $7.99.

Please visit www.fernschumerchapman.com for more information

The book exemplifies the great things that happen when neighbors collaborate