Local children’s book author writes new book to help kids with lockdowns
With a new school year comes new books!
Hopewell Borough artist and children’s book author/illustrator Barbara DiLorenzo has just released a new children’s picture book titled One Thursday Afternoon http://www.barbaradilorenzo.com. DiLorenzo is the author of Class Favorites Renato and the Lion and Quincy: The chameleon who couldn’t blend.
Like his previous books, A Thursday afternoon carries a strong message with its beautiful illustrations, this time about school closures. “I wanted him to tell the kids that no matter what, there’s someone there for you. Whether it’s just to listen, like Grandpa does in the book, or to be a comforting presence,” DiLorenzo said.
A difficult topic to broach thoughtfully, school shootings are very common in many communities. But for DiLorenzo, who recently experienced confinement, the situation was terrifying. She said: ‘I heard a loud noise somewhere and jumped, thinking it was a gunshot. I was really touched by it. Her son, however, had a different reaction. During the lockdown, the author asked his son if he was okay, and his response was very nonchalant. DiLorenzo realized that “it was normal”.
So DiLorenzo took it upon herself to write about her experience to show kids that fear is normal. DiLorenzo explained, “I feel like we’re covering children’s books for the first day of school, new siblings, bullies, but nothing to show kids how to deal with exercise anxiety. lockdown. Usually there’s an adult voice sharing the best way to handle the situation, but for this topic, I just didn’t know. I don’t have an answer, and I can’t say it’s going to be okay.
Grandpa plays an important role in the book as the main character, Ava, a confidant, staying by his side through all the tough times of growing up. His character was written with a very specific goal in mind. DiLorenzo wanted to “invite a conversation between a caregiver or an adult and a child. This way the child can say “here’s what I think” and hopefully the adult is ready to listen. In the book, Grandpa realizes he should listen to Ava, not just tell her his opinion.
Ava, was inspired by a girl DiLorenzo met while working with HomeFront, the central homelessness organization. “She has that kind of quiet determination. There’s something about his personality that’s really fun to see. The character doesn’t look like the real Ava, but her name was definitely part of that character because I was thinking about her personality.
With depth seeping through every page, DiLorenzo’s work still retains its peaceful imagery. This too was intentional. For pre-readers, the author wanted to “show peaceful hills and beautiful art that wouldn’t scare any child”. Not wanting to trigger any trauma, DiLorenzo considered it crucial to keep his work soft and engaging for children of all ages.
With its beautiful works of art and thoughtful history, On a Thursday afternoon, released on September 6, is an inviting new read. You can meet DiLorenzo at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival on October 8.
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