Tori Schoen ’20 provides illustrations for new children’s book ‘Why Can’t I Play With My Friends?’

‘Why Can’t I Play With My Friends?’ can be purchased on the book’s website and will soon be available on the Barnes and Noble Online Bookstore. (Photo courtesy of Tori Schoen ’20)

It is difficult to imagine what is going through the mind of a child living through the pandemic with all of the restrictions and risks it has imposed on everyday life.

This past Monday, Tori Schoen ’20 and her former tutor Sherry Lottero, published their picture book, “Why Can’t I Play With My Friends? A Pandemic Playbook for Kids.” The book, geared toward children 3-8 years old, seeks to help young readers with the confusion of living in a socially-distanced world through explanatory texts and inviting, colorful illustrations, drawn by Schoen. 

The project marks Schoen’s first time providing illustrations for a picture book.

“We hope our book can help children feel a little comfort during this crazy time,” Schoen said.

“Why Can’t I Play With My Friends?” acts as a sort of road map for answers to a child’s questions about the pandemic.

One segment, with the heading “how come I can’t…” includes over 10 separate smaller illustrations that finish the question in various ways such as  “how come I can’t…play sports?” or “how come I can’t… have music lessons?”

Other questions explore subjects such as “how come…mom is not going to the office?” or “how come…no one is having a birthday party?”

The book then provides separate, miniaturized storylines to provide an explanation for each question in a way designed for children to understand, accompanied by colorful illustrations.

Schoen said that she wanted to “illustrate the book in a way that, even if a kid couldn’t read, they could still understand what was going on in the book.”

Schoen was approached about illustrating the book by Lottero, an educator with over 50 years of experience, who was also Schoen’s childhood tutor.

“I knew I could definitely work with [Schoen], she’s extremely creative,” Lottero said, noting that she thought the collaboration between them would be “magnificent.”

According to the book’s website, Lottero felt “deeply concerned with the current, as well as, residual effects of the pandemic upon global youth,” and wrote the book to help the children and also “assist parents, caretakers, and educators in having honest discussions about the COVID-19 pandemic with their children and students.”

Besides providing understanding to children, Schoen and Lottero are supporting a second cause. All proceeds from their book will be donated to the Feed My Children’s Fund, an organization that provides food for children and their families around the world.

The book is currently available to purchase on its website and will soon be available on the Barnes and Noble online bookstore. 

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