Sabbithry Persad, MBA, along with Camilly P. Pires de Mello, Ph.D. and Viveca Giongo, Ph.D. serving in editorial positions, has achieved the impossible. An intermediate children’s book that pulls no punches, but never at the expense of comfort. It’s titled What Is Coronavirus?: How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay Safe. Like its title would suggest, the book is an illustrated how-to guide on its subject matter, detailing in candid but non-excessive prose and blurbs the origins and traits of the virus itself, and with that how to handle its existence in the current climate. The sense of calm Persad and her literary team radiate is crucial to the book’s success in its genre. It’s clean, informative, and should make older children and preteens feel empowered. The book’s content is divided into several distinctive sections, titled accordingly: Virus Basics, Understanding Coronaviruses, Coronavirus and the Body, Coronavirus and the Environment, Combatting Coronavirus, plus an extensive glossary section.

Persad is a graduate of New York University and the University of Central Florida, with a sociology degree and an MBA formerly and with respect to the latter. Works like What Is Coronavirus?: How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay Safe are clearly right in her wheelhouse. Her previous literary accomplishments include the Garbology Kids waste management series, having enjoyed success both in American and Canadian markets. She’s also the founder of Firewater Media Group and Green Solutions Magazine, a publication specializing in solving environmental issues with environment-friendly solutions. Her sense of paying it back is matched by her attention to detail. What Is Coronavirus?: How It Infects, How It Spreads, and How to Stay Safe is literally beautiful to look at. From the evocative and colorful illustrations, to the overall design of the book. Right down to the text.


“During this time of change and uncertainty, it is important to practice self-care and maintain a structured schedule,” Persad writes in one of the book’s key sections. “There are many ways to stay healthy while SARS-CoV-2 infections fluctuate. Take some time to care for your body and your mind. Increase your immune strength so you feel your best.” True to form, Persad uses this as something akin to a thesis statement or a generalized topical christening, breaking the rest of the chapter down into illustrated blurbs showcasing various ways to achieve that. From featured passages highlighting the need for physical activity and hydration, to basics such as eating a healthy diet, ensuring consistent good quality sleep, fighting fatigue with walks and physical stimulation, avoiding stressful triggers, monitoring and mitigating physical symptoms, and staying in consistent contact with a medical professional.

This is pretty much the design of each of the specialized chapter sections, another standout in this vein titled Mind Your Mental Health. In this part of the book, Persad writes, “SARS-CoV-2 and health measures to prevent its spread have disrupted all our lives…The impact can affect our mental health, including our emotional and psychological well-being. Even when the pandemic outlook improves, recognizing psychological distress like depression and stress is key to managing mental health.”

Kendall Townsend