Gruffalo illustrator pens new ebook explaining coronavirus to children

Hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded a new coronavirus book for primary school age children, illustrated by best-selling Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler.

Independent book publisher Nosy Crown said it had been overwhelmed by the worldwide response.

In the first 24 hours, the digital book was access more than 100,000 times directly from the Nosy Crow website and hundreds of thousands of times from other hosts.

Daily traffic to the Nosy Crow website, driven by the blog post sharing the digital book, has increased 100-fold against the same time last week.

The book has been written by staff within the company and has expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who acted as a consultant, and advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist.

Kate Wilson, Managing Director of Nosy Crow, said: "We have just been overwhelmed with the response to our book. As a relatively small, independent publisher we have just never seen this level of activity on our website or through our social media channels.

"We were very aware that many parents and carers are struggling to explain the current extraordinary situation to children, many of whom are frightened and confused.

“We thought that the best thing we could do would be to use our skills to produce a free book - accessible to everyone - to explain and, where possible, reassure children and there has been astonishing levels of demand, both here in the UK and worldwide.”

Two women grab the opportunity to get up close and have a laugh with the Gruffalo at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2019. Credit: PA

The free ebook is to be translated into multiple different languages, including English, Afrikaans, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Welsh.

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said: "I asked myself what I could do as an children's illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad.

He added: “I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I've done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books."

Professor Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "This pandemic is changing children's lives across the globe and will have a lasting impact on us all.

“Helping children understand what is going on is an important step in helping them cope and making them part of the story - this is something that we are all going through, not something being done to them.

“This book puts children in the picture rather just watching it happen, and in a way that makes the scary parts easier to cope with."

You can download a copy of the book here.