Evelyn White Reviews an Inspirational Book About Making the Most of Life in Quarantine
Q is for quarantine
Damon Roker and Gavin Roker
Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute
Dalhousie University recently launched a research study that will examine the impact of COVID-19 on youths who’ve completed Grades 6 to 12 in Nova Scotia.
The information “will be important for recommendations of policies and programs … as [the province] continues in the recovery plan and as students return back to school in September,” said a Dal official about the project. Details about the study can be found here.
As it happens, brothers Damon Roker and Gavin Roker (ages 11 and 10, respectively) deliver an absorbing account of their experiences with the pandemic in Q is for quarantine: The ABCs of Covid-19. Published by The Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute in Halifax, the softcover release (replete with photographs) includes an afterword by Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, the proud grandmother of the youths. Residents of Ontario, the brothers last year spent several weeks in Nova Scotia after their planned Toronto-area summer activities were cancelled because of the coronavirus.
The Rokers open their 36-page narrative with “A is for Airplane,” in which they describe the journey to their grandparents’ home in the historic Black community of East Preston. “We had to be very brave because of Covid-19,” they write. “There were only 10 people on our flight and we were very safe.”
During their required 14-day quarantine at “Nanny and Pop’s,” the brothers found refuge in “F is for Food!” and “G is for Games.” “We helped Nanny make yummy things to eat, and she taught us how to bake!” they explain. “We played Connect 4, Dominoes … but the best games we created on our own.”
In “H is for Home Schooling,” the Rokers highlight their grandparents’ commitment to education. “It would have been easy to just forget about school, but not with Nanny in charge,” they write. “She made us get up every day to do the work that our teachers assigned. … And even made us wear our uniforms the first day, to make her point.”
The brothers continue: “We did art classes with our grandfather. Pops is a retired artist and he loved doing the art. Truth is we hated it but had to do it anyway.”
After quarantine, Damon is pictured, in “P is for PEI,” on a ferry to Prince Edward Island. He notes that he’d completed a project about the province in Grade 5.
“W is for Essential Workers” showcases Gavin and Damon holding colourful “Thank You” signs that they crafted in support of everyone who “kept working when the rest of the country had to shut down.” Senator Bernard beams behind her grandsons. “There was no road map to help families get through these challenging times, but we did,” she writes in her afterword.
The book is especially noteworthy for Gavin’s insights as a youngster with autism. “My brain works differently and sometimes I see things differently,” he explains. “I really missed doing things with my friends when we were on lockdown. I love to tell jokes and to play jokes on people, but this book is no joke except for the funny things that happened during COVID-19.”
An inspiration for readers of all ages.