Author and LBUSD teacher Marsha Bullock next to her book. Photos courtesy of Marsha Bullock.

When writing her latest children’s book, it was important to Marsha Bullock that children not be afraid of its main character, the coronavirus.

Being the author of a dozen children’s and adult-themed books, as well as a longtime pre-K teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District, Bullock has had plenty of time to ruminate on human behavior and she knew very little good comes when people act out of a sense of fear or helplessness.

“I wanted the book to carry the weight of the moment without scaring the kids,” Bullock said.

And so, “Corona and the Glitter” presents the virus as that, a virus, not an all-powerful monster. Corona comes with knowable aspects and behaviors that allow the children in the story to act in ways that allow them to self-protect.

“The virus is being a virus [in the story] and the children learn that there are things they can do, like socially distance and wash their hands, to take care of themselves,” said Bullock.

Her book will be included in a Take Care Kit provided by the Agape Children’s Museum as part of a March 27 event at Barton Elementary School to promote health and wellness in the Black community.

The importance of doing everything possible to avoid COVID was driven home to Bullock when, just a few weeks after the publication of “Corona,” she was diagnosed with the virus. It was a plot twist worthy of one of her adult works, though the reviews from Bullock were less than enthusiastic.

“It was horrible,” she said. “The worst. The worst I could ever imagine. I lost my sense of taste and smell, I was sluggish. It was awful.”

Bullock says she has no idea where she contracted the virus, but, as a pre-K teacher, the fact is she is around kids each day, every day. The virus knocked her out of the classroom for six weeks.

Now that she’s back she says the experience has convinced her even more how important it is to give kids the tools to avoid getting sick. Fortunately, she says, children are adaptable creatures.

“They came to school one day and saw the world shutting down, that could be terrifying but kids are like sponges when it comes to change,” Bullock said. “You give them new information, a new way of doing things and they just soak it up.”

It was that knowledge that was one of the factors driving Bullock to write “Corona.”

“I had to figure out what I wanted the children to take from this,” she said. “These days, there’s so much going on, things have been so weird, I wanted to make sure to get across exactly what I wanted them to learn. I pretty much went into teacher mode.”

To get a copy of “Corona and the Glitter” along with personal protective equipment, including disposable facemasks, hand sanitizer, infrared thermometers and sanitizing wipes, they will be handed out from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., March 27 at Barton Elementary, located at 1100 E. Del Amo Blvd.

The event is sponsored by the April Parker Foundation, in partnership with the City of Long Beach Blck Health Equity Fund, Coalition for Involved African  American Families, Project Optimism and Agape Children’s Museum.

For more information, click here.