Miriam Elia: We do Lockdown

Dung Beetle Books have published We do Lockdown, a new book to inform younger readers about life under COVID. The author, Miriam Elia, helps children learn about the new normal in a manner that is reassuringly numbing. What may at first appear to be logical fallacies, hypocrisy and outright absurdity in our government’s wholly balanced and scientifically grounded response to the current health crisis are explained to the sceptical. We do Lockdown is the fifth book in the Learning Series, which includes We go to the Gallery, the author’s bestselling introduction to contemporary art for young learners.

Helpful word boxes highlight new words for learners. They include “risk, averse, agoraphobia”, “obsessive, compulsive, disorder” and “playing, is, hazardous”. Personally, I consider “despotic, misanthropic, existence” too advanced for readers aged 6-8 years old, but I applaud the author’s ambition. Legible and colourful illustrations and clear text complement each other. Ms Elia’s competence is to be applauded. The Ladybird-style format hardback gives purchasers confidence in the product.  

[Image:  Bog roll apocalypse from We do Lockdown by Miriam Elia. © Miriam Elia 2020.]

In We do Lockdown, readers follow John and Susan and their mother through everyday life in our newly health-conscious times. We join the unnamed family as they prepare to watch the death count on the television news and see them on the doorstep applauding our NHS. All of this provides some social instruction alongside the expansion of the target reader’s vocabulary and grammar. Ms Elia’s delightful vignettes dispel notions of cultivated paranoia, government control, media hysteria and social enforcement of petty and ineffective acts of compliance. We get a comprehensive overview of our future in a manner both informative and – dare I add – a touch old-fashioned in execution. This latter aspect will appeal to the so-called “hipster crowd” without alienating the rest of us.

[Image: Caring on Tap from We do Lockdown by Miriam Elia. © Miriam Elia 2020.]

Dung Beetle Books is a surprisingly venerable publishing house. It is “an educational publishing house founded in 1936”. “Dung Beetle’s first success came in 1938 with the publication of Why We Burn Books, an early learning guide to fascism, which sold particularly well in Central and Eastern Europe.” I recommend that Amazon reissue that book with updates. The new edition could explain why online retailers de-list books spreading so-called “science” designed to promote hatred. It is reassuring that big tech, online retailers and traditional publishers are combining to make us safer and less confused about vital issues by protecting us from hate speech.

We do Lockdown is a necessary, timely and deeply responsible book which children will appreciate and parents can trust. We salute the good folks at Dung Beetle Books for another sterling effort. We recommend this title as a Christmas purchase.

Miriam Elia, We do Lockdown, Dung Beetle Books, 2020, 46pp, fully col. illus., hardback, £8.99, https://dungbeetlebooks.com/

(c) 2020 Alexander Adams

To see my books and art visit www.alexanderadams.art