Vaayu to the rescue

Updated: Mar 19, 2020, 16:38 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

The Union government has come up with a comic book featuring a superhero to explain coronavirus to the little ones. A parent helps us find out if the kids have learnt a lesson

Jennifer Baptista and her kids
Jennifer Baptista and her kids

From multiple health advisories to social media updates, we've been hit by a barrage of information on coronavirus in the past few weeks. And let's face it; navigating through this information, figuring out the real from the fake, as well as dealing with the anxiety of it all has been difficult enough. Can you then imagine how confusing it must be for kids? In order to make sure children get the right facts, the Union Government has released a 22-page comic book called Kids, Vaayu & Corona: Who wins the fight?

The 22-page book, featuring Vaayu, the superhero, has been authored by Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, additional professor of environmental health at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, and Dr Suman Mor, associate professor and chairperson, department of environment studies, Panjab University.

We reached out to 42-year-old Malad-based homemaker, Jennifer Baptista, to read the comic book aimed at kids in the nine to 12 age group, along with her nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, and tell us what worked for them, and what didn't.

Superhero spot on

Guide

The protagonist of the comic, Vaayu, is a superhero hailing from the foothills of the Himalayas and works for public health and environment. Dressed in white and brown, Vaayu swishes around in a blue cape to the call of three kids, who have just found out about the pandemic. He goes on to explain to them what it means, how to take safety precautions, and ensures that they don't panic. "My son is into superheroes, so he loved the book. A lot of children, like him, will connect with Vaayu and pay attention," says Baptista.

Simplicity is key

Guide

Most of the pages of the book are divided into two or three panels. "It is written in simple language; my children read it, without me having to explain much of it to them. I read Vaayu's dialogues in the white text bubbles, and my daughter read the kids' dialogues in the blue text bubbles. This made it fun," Baptista shares, adding that her four-year-old son, who hasn't learnt to read yet, had no trouble catching up with them, thanks to the well-made illustrations.

Guide

Lead by example

Guide

Apart from being colourful and funny, the 42-year-old Malad resident says the book cites examples that children can relate to. "There is an illustration of a boy coughing close to another. My daughter could relate; she said kids in class often wipe their noses and hold each others' hands," she says. From washing hands to maintaining social distance, Vaayu's instructions are illustrated step by step alongside the main comic strip. "My kids enjoyed the bit about traditional ways of greeting and I found the information on masks helpful; earlier I thought we always needs to wear masks."

However, Baptista adds that the part where Vaayu tells the kids about mortality rates and death could've been phrased more sensitively. "My daughter was a bit taken aback to see the word death. Words like host and cell should've been explained," she suggests, adding the book is also riddled with grammatical errors.

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