The first book about the pandemic is already here! Below you can find more information about the brand new release, Don’t Stand So Close To Me by Eric Walters (published by Orca Books).
Written, published and released during a pandemic: Eric Walters defies traditional publishing norms to create a book for young people living through the COVID-19 era. Don’t Stand So Close to Me, a middle-grade novel by multi-award-winning author Eric Walters about a group of preteens forced into isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be released June 3, 2020, from Orca Book Publishers.
Don’t Stand So Close to Me reflects the current life experience of many young people around the world who, due to COVID-19, are unable to attend school in person or see their friends. It offers lessons about understanding the pandemic and concepts such as “exponential growth” and “flattening the curve.” It also instills hope and optimism about the ways our communities have come together to support one another, from a safe distance.
Walters had hundreds of emails from teachers and parents asking if he was going to write about these unprecedented times. He explains, “there was a need to educate and inspire, to lead with optimism, while trying to make sense of the chaos swirling around us.”
Walters came up with the idea on April 22, which went from conception to publication in less than seven weeks. “It’s been an amazing collaborative process from the start,” he says of working with his editor and publisher at Orca Book Publishers. In addition, Walters reached out to teachers, librarians and students across North America to create a team of beta readers for the manuscript on a tight timeline. Their feedback—which included everything from identifying the concepts coming out of the pandemic that are challenging for preteens to understand to tweaking the dialogue and song references to improve the authenticity—has ensured that the story accurately portrays current experiences of distance learning.
Don’t Stand So Close to Me will be released in PDF and EPUB formats and will be available at orcabook.com and all major ebook retailers. A print version will be released this fall. Eric has also written a free teacher’s guide to assist teachers in adapting the book into their distance learning plans before the end of the school year, which is available at orcabook.com. “This has certainly been a challenging time for the Canadian publishing and bookselling industry, and we’ve been considering novel ways to reach readers,” says Andrew Wooldridge, publisher of Victoria’s Orca Book Publishers. “As print sales have largely collapsed, we have seen renewed interest in ebooks and digital content.”
Walters is the author of more than 115 novels and picture books and has won over 100 awards. He also has a master of social work degree and was employed in a hospital emergency department for 18 years, which included working in mask, gloves and scrubs during the SARS outbreak. Walters conceived of the “I Read Canadian” initiative launched earlier this year to promote Canadian children’s books. He co-founded and co-runs The Creation of Hope, a children’s program for orphans in rural Kenya. A portion of the proceeds from Don’t Stand So Close to Me will be donated to Lakeside Hope House in Guelph, Ontario, where Walters lives. Lakeside Hope House offers services and programs that challenge the stigmas surrounding poverty and advocates on the belief that poverty, food insecurity, health and community are all interconnected.