We've been wearing masks over here in Vietnam pretty much constantly since February 2020. All our students from 3 year olds to 18 year olds have been wearing them in school without any problems because they understand it's not just for their safety, but that of their friends too. There's been much discussion, with the little ones especially, about emotions during this time, and they were the ones who came up with the idea that their eyes could show us how they were feeling. Out of the mouths of babes. . . . So here is the story sparked by those discussions with concept art by my very talented daughter Anisha.
Moon wears a unicorn mask because unicorns are unique and special just like Moon.
Hasib wears a puppy dog mask because puppies are playful and friendly just like Hasib.
Hai Lan wears a Spiderman mask because superheroes help protect people just like Hai Lan.
Andy wears a dragon mask because dragons are strong and brave just like Andy.
Katie wears a panda mask because pandas are thoughtful and gentle just like Katie.
We wear our special masks because they help stop us from sharing our sneezes and coughs.
But wearing our masks doesn’t mean we can’t share our feelings.
We do that through our eyes.
When Moon is happy, her eyes twinkle like the stars on a rainbow unicorn.
When Hasib is feeling playful, his eyes shine like a puppy waiting for a game of fetch.
When Hai Lan is surprised, her eyes open really wide, just like when a superhero saves you.
When Andy is brave, his eyes look fierce like a knight that has fought many dragons.
When Katie is gentle, her eyes sparkle with kindness.
Our masks help protect us, but our eyes will twinkle, shine, sparkle and smile to let you know that we are okay.
Through Our Eyes: A Pandemic Story © Kerry Gittins 2021. All Rights Reserved.
This picture book is loosely based on the story of a family friend who struggled with dementia later on in her life. The power of music, kindness, and friendship across the generations, are woven into the story.
Aimed at 4 - 8 year olds.
I first met Daisy at the park. I was on my way to the swings with mum, when I noticed an older lady sitting on one of the wooden benches. She was all alone, twisting her hands in slow circles and frowning, as if trying to remember something.
‘Hi. Have you lost something?’ I asked. She looked up with sad, green eyes and then, without replying, looked away. I thought perhaps she hadn’t heard me so I said, ‘Um. . . are you okay?’
‘Do I know you?’ she questioned softly, looking at us again.
‘I don’t think so. My name is Olive and this is my mum. We live in the house over there.’ ‘That’s nice’ she replied, looking to where I had pointed at the small cottage on the other side of the road.
‘Do you live around here too?’ my mum asked.
‘I’m. . . I’m not sure.’ She spoke very softly. ‘Do you know where I live? I’m trying so hard, but I can’t seem to remember’.
Her face was a mixture of worry and hope.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t. Maybe if you tell us your name?’ She turned away again, ‘I can’t remember my name either.’ A tear rolled silently down her cheek.
‘I’m sure mum and I can help. Why don’t you come home with us and we’ll try and find out for you?’ I looked up at Mum and she nodded saying, ‘Yes. Let’s see what we can do.’ I held out my hand and she placed her wrinkled palm in mine.
As we walked slowly back to our cottage, I began to sing a song in time to our footsteps. I love music just like my grandpa. The song was an old tune he used to sing to me when I was little. ♪ ‘Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do. I’m half-crazy all for the love of you.’ ♪
Mum and I looked at each other in surprise when she began to sing along. We were almost home when she stopped suddenly and said, ‘Daisy! That’s my name. Daisy Bullock! Now I remember!’ I grinned. ‘Very nice to meet you Daisy.’
Back home, Daisy told us that she was having trouble remembering things but, when I began to sing, her memory started to come back! Mum made us all a cup of tea as Daisy remembered more and more. She told us she lived on the other side of the park with her daughter. ‘Singing those old songs helped me a lot Olive.’ She patted my hand and smiled.
Mum and I drove Daisy home. Her daughter gave Daisy a big hug and thanked us for bringing her home. She explained how her mum was having trouble remembering things. I said that was okay because everyone forgets sometimes.
As we left, Daisy asked if I would like to come visit her again. I glanced up at mum with hopeful eyes. She smiled. ‘I think Olive would like that very much.’
Now Daisy and I walk to the park together. We sing all the old songs my grandpa taught me along the way.
And Daisy remembers everything just fine.
Daisy. © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.
If I could change who would I be? And should I change from being me?
‘Cause after all it’s who I am but should I change me if I can?
Should I change from being brave and fighting dragons known as Dave?
And climbing up the castle wall to save old Humpty from his fall?
Should I change from being bold and fighting pirates for their gold?
And sailing seas to find the chest beneath the spot that’s marked with ‘X’?
Would I change the me whose friend is different – just because of them?
The ones who say ‘She’s not like you. Her skin’s not right. Her hair’s strange too.’
The ones who think their way is right. The ones whose words are full of spite.
Who say if we don’t act like them we cannot ever be their friend.
But I’m not sure I’d care to be a friend to those who pick on me
The ones who bully, call me names. I do not want to play their games.
I’d rather have my friend who’s brave and not afraid of dragon Dave!
A friend who’s bold and sails the seas in search of treasures just like me!
We’re best of friends that much we know, and yes we’re same but different,
So, I hug her tight ‘cause we can see, that I am her and she is me.
Just Like Me © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.