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Alumna self-publishes book to teach children about social distancing

Jun 23, 2019
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When the term “social distancing” became the norm at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Darcy Smith (Advanced Film & Television ’14) was struck by the number of children who might have trouble understanding such a foreign concept.

To help kids understand the importance of social distancing, Smith self-published Bree the Bunny – a children’s book featuring Bree, a bunny set out to help her friends when a black fog rolls into her forest. Smith has donated 100% of proceeds from book sales to Toronto Food Banks and has been able to link with Post Foods Canada to promote the book

Here, Smith shares what inspired the story behind Bree the Bunny:

What inspired you to write a children’s book to outline the importance of social distancing? 

I felt awful for everyone in self isolation, but I felt bad especially for kids. Typically, kids have a lot of energy and (…) need to be active and stimulated. I thought about how parents are explaining to their kids about the importance of self isolation, and why they can't see their friends and family. I thought maybe a book could teach them, and when I couldn’t find one, I decided to write one. 

Can you talk a bit about the concept – how did you decide on Bree as the central character?  

I was writing the story leading up to Easter, so the idea of Easter coming up and us being self-isolated inspired me to create a Bunny as the main character who also deals with self-isolation.  

When a black fog rolls into the forest, Bree the Bunny looks for ways to help her friends. The idea is that everyone can help, everyone can keep busy, and everyone can play a part.     

Can you expand a bit on your partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank Toronto and why you felt this partnership was important?

I knew I wanted proceeds (from the book) to go to a worthwhile cause. I did a lot of research and had been watching the news daily, if not hourly, and following everyone's concerns on social media. I had heard and seen a lot of coverage about food banks and how their clientele has increased by 53%. Several library branches were converting into food banks to take on the overflow, but the number of volunteers had to be reduced due to the risk. I knew I couldn't make a huge impact, but I knew I could make one small difference. I wanted that small difference to be local. 

I looked up the food bank in my area, the Daily Food Bank, and dedicated the proceeds to them. The idea of a kid going hungry, let alone a child going hungry near where I live, is unacceptable. Reading some of these stories from people needing food broke my heart. 

How did you partner with Post Foods Canada? What does that partnership entail?

Post Foods Canada was accepting applications, looking for individuals who were sharing some goodness. I applied with Bree the Bunny, with all proceeds going to food banks for their #sharesomegoodness campaign. Shreddies chose my story as one of three for their campaign. All I had to do was take a couple of photos of myself and the book, and they did the rest. It was a win-win situation. I advertised for Shreddies while promoting Bree the Bunny on their platform. The spot helped boost book sales in a big way. 

Social distancing can be a tricky subject for kids to grasp – what are you hoping to convey through this book?

I'm hoping to convey that even though we're socially distancing, we can still connect with friends and family by helping each other, even if it's in the smallest way. Everyone can help even if it's simply by self-isolating, you're doing your part. And your friends and family will be there when it's all over. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Bree the Bunny or yourself? 

I was laid off from producing video content at a boutique agency in Toronto due to COVID-19. I've always wanted to write but never had the time, so I've been grateful for the time to sit down and write and see if I have what it takes. I've dedicated this book to essential workers, families and my late father, who passed away in November 2019.

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