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Be a Hero Too

June 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Samantha Rohe, MD

I was initially inspired to write a children’s book about Covid-19 by my son Henry. He is 3.5 years old and at the start of the pandemic he was constantly asking me questions. “Mommy why can’t I see the virus? Why can’t we go see Grandpa and Grandma? Is the zoo stillllll closed due to the germs?” In addition, I was stressed about all the changes myself and I could tell that he was sensing some of my anxiety. As a pediatrician, I talk to kids about all kinds of issues. However, addressing questions about a pandemic was new. If I was struggling to explain these concepts to my son, then many parents of my patients were likely going through the same thing. I decided to write a children’s book to help.

Writing my first draft didn’t take long. My children really love flowy lyrics, which is why I chose the rhyming style. I wanted it to be simple for them to understand, but yet have a positive message about how they play a part and can make a difference. Once I had a draft, my husband and I would read it out loud to one another and to our children. This helped me make any edits for words that resonated with our children better or to make a stanza flow better.

The biggest challenge I had was to find an illustrator. I asked a few friends that I knew did graphics work, but most of them could not commit to the short turnaround time we needed as they were still working full time. A friend from residency suggested reaching out to medical students as many of them wanted to provide services to patients during the pandemic, but were being sidelined due to trying to conserve PPE. Through a similar acquaintance at UNMC, I was introduced to Sophie Cemaj, a 2nd year medical student with a talent for what she calls doodling. She jumped on the project right away and started working on illustrations.

Sophie’s inspiration for the illustrations came from various friends, family, and favorite places. The cover and super hero of our book is inspired by her niece. The heroes on page 7 were inspired by her dad (a physician at UNMC), a good friend who is a nurse, and a friend who is a scientist. As we are both from Omaha, this gave her inspiration for the skyline and “Henry’s” (also my son’s name!)  Zoo on page 9. Throughout the book you can see Sophie’s fun personality come out through numerous hidden Easter eggs. Make sure to pay attention to the virus on page 1, the order of people on this page, and then how the virus gets transmitted throughout the book. Try to find the Nebraska inspired coffee mug, Napoleon virus, King Kong virus and various plays on some favorite childhood movies (Honey I Shrunk the kids, Lady and the Tramp, and Home Alone).

Once complete, we started sharing with family and friends. Our overall goal was to provide a resource for children and their families to open up the conversation about the coronavirus pandemic. We want our book to be a free resource for patients and families who otherwise might not be able to afford a book for their children. Most of all I want to emphasize to parents that there have been a lot of changes for families given the pandemic. Every child handles it differently. Some may brush it off and hardly notice, but many are much more observant and pick up on a lot more than you realize. They may have some fears and worries about our current world. The best way to know what these anxieties are is to talk with them. This book will help do just this. It helps start the conversation about what is going on.

Download and read the books here:

Be a Hero Too    Seě un Heěroe tuě Tambieěn

About Samantha Rohe, MD: I was born and raised in Newcastle, Nebraska and was always drawn to medicine. I attended Creighton University in Omaha, NE and while there it didn’t take long to know that being a Pediatrician was for me! I loved the resilience of kids, the ability to be silly while working, the constant changes day to day, and being able to work with the entire family. I attended residency at Saint Louis University/Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis, Mo. It was here that I met one of my mentors, Aline Tanios, who is one of the Mommy MD Guides. She was a great mentor for me when trying to figure out being a working mom! After residency, I worked in Saint Louis until my husband finished medical school. During our time in Saint Louis we were blessed with 2 beautiful children, Henry age 3.5 years and Lilly age 1.5 years. When my husband graduated, we headed back to our home state for his residency, where I currently work as a general pediatrician for Children’s Physicians/UNMC.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.