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The past year has been like nothing the education system has seen in generations. Virtual learning, socially distanced playgrounds, and widespread school closures have become the norm.
The daily ritual of donning a mask to attend class is also something all school-age children have now become accustomed to. One retired teacher is doing her part to help normalize the mask-wearing and hand-washing that are a part of everyday life for students.
“I wanted to find a way to help young children understand the importance of keeping healthy,” says Paddy Dinnarr, a resident of Dorset and the author of the new children’s book Raccoons Wear Masks Too! “The classroom provides a familiar setting for the book and the students/animals are a friendly way for children to relate. The book also provides an educational look at the pandemic by outlining healthy steps for children to follow.”
This is the first book written by Dinnarr, who spent her career teaching elementary school in the Toronto area. In fact one of her former students, Dayna Shura, illustrated the book.
“We play Euchre with her parents and I asked them one night if they thought she’d be interested,” says Dinnarr. “She’s a very good artist and attended art school. I looked over her Instagram account where she’s often doing pictures of animals.”
The book isn’t Shura’s first foray into children’s literature, having previously written and illustrated a book called Little Blue Pig.
Dinnarr says she got the idea for Raccoons Wear Masks Too! after looking out her window one day and spying a raccoon in her yard.
“The main character, Rocco Raccoon, was the inspiration for the story as he’s often found prowling outside our house wearing his mask,” she says. “I was actually headed to the dentist and most of the ideas came to me during that car ride. I got home and it took me two days to write it and then there was a great deal of editing.”
The story takes place in a classroom setting where the teacher, Mrs. Powl, questions her students to understand why Rocco Raccoon always wears a mask. Entertaining answers ensue when suggestions are proposed by his classmates.
“Students learn that masks help protect them, and others, from germs. Now all Rocco’s classmates want to be like him and wear a mask,” says Dinnarr.
The book also includes fun facts about raccoons and an original poem titled “How to Wear a Mask”, co-written by Shura and Dinnarr.
The book even includes cameo appearances from her two daughters’ pets. Dinnarr notes that the book received rave reviews from her daughter Karen, who is currently a nurse at Huntsville Hospital.
In addition to being an instructional guide, the book will also serve as a time capsule or a snapshot of a very unique period in history, says Dinnarr.
Raccoons Wear Masks Too! is available by contacting Dinnarr directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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