A year with COVID-19 has thrust changes and challenges upon the world, and especially children. Thankfully, now there’s a children’s book written by our very own PYP Coordinator and PreK-2 Library Specialist Sabah Rashid that examines the idea of perseverance through changes.
Upside Down, written by Sabah Rashid and illustrated by Liuba Syrotiuk, is a story of persisting with courage through a time of great disruption. The description reads: “In the face of change, rising anxiety can be crippling. Drawing on the healing power of nature, our innate curiosity, and positive self-talk, Upside Down positively navigates through a disaster, leading us to keep an open mind, embracing that which we cannot change. Written in the first person, Upside Down entices the reader with elements of fantasy, distracting from the trauma and pain that can come with unexpected change. Magical images of nature propel us into a sci-fi experience, wrapping us in a hug of possibilities- a nurturing gift of protection and calm until we realize...we are going to be alright.”
Like others during COVID-19, Ms. Rashid found herself limited to a strict social bubble, unable to include the support from a 'village' of family, colleagues, friends, and neighbors. “I had to make a conscious effort to create opportunities to be together with loved ones virtually, celebrating birthdays online, and be satisfied with just our immediate family,” said Ms. Rashid. She continued, “The expected welcome distractions of dinners out, casual strolls through the mall, playdates with friends, parties, or even the gym were no longer part of our lives. It was uncomfortable, but with courage, I managed to be alright.”
After the lockdown, Ms. Rashid had a monumental encounter with the natural world that cracked open a doorway to authorship. During a trip to the beach with her children, and while floating on a lazy ocean current, Ms. Rashid gazed to the sky taking in multidimensional puffy white clouds and the clear, blue skies of Boca. This brought to mind an idea that became the starting point for the book. While gazing upward, a question formed in her mind: What would happen if the sky and the ground traded places? Together with her children, they pieced together a far-fetched tale that she later captured in writing.
With the outlines of her story in mind and on paper, Ms. Rashid enrolled in a self-publishing course for children’s book authors. “I worked through the course modules to learn the process of drafting, engaging beta readers, professional editing, hiring an illustrator, proper formatting for hardcover, paperbacks and ebooks, types of bookbindings, varying paperweights, and where to publish and launch the book,” offered Ms. Rashid.
Now that the book is published on Amazon, Ms. Rashid continues to market the book in both fun and efficient ways. “It has been such a joy to share the book's images, message, and rhyme with students and teachers at Saint Andrew’s and other schools. I’ve also reached out to local stores, contacted podcast hosts, and hope to reach my goal of 100 reviews on Amazon,” she added.
In the book Upside Down, Ms. Rashid writes in a style that is gender-neutral and allows readers to see themselves in the story. “Events that turn our lives upside down vary from person to person -- sickness, divorce, a friend moving away, death, a pandemic, the loss of a job can all affect people differently. I have done my best to encourage making text-to-self connections easy for anyone who reads Upside Down.”
As we all navigate how the pandemic has turned our world ‘upside down’, Ms. Rashid wants Scots to gain courage from these adverse experiences. She also encourages any budding Scot authors out there who are interested in writing and publishing to go for it. “You have a message and the world needs to hear it. Publish it!” she said.