Coronavirus

Soothing words … doctor’s cat and rabbit tales prove big hit during COVID-19 crisis

By Ian Marland at

A doctor and her son have written two short children’s stories to help young minds understand the current health crisis.

Dr Ioanna Nixon got the idea after seeing anxiety brought on by the lockdown in her youngest son David.

She and David’s older brother George, nine, decided to write and illustrate an online book to help.

Family group shot

Dr Ioanna Nixon with sons David and George.

‘Jack Wee Rabbit Is Scared of Coranavirus’ has been downloaded more than 1,000 times in just a few days.

Positive comments and feedback from friends, colleagues and parents inspired mother and son to pen a second book – ‘Jack Wee Rabbit is Bored’.

Dr Nixon, a consultant oncologist at the Beatson cancer centre in the West End, said she hoped the simple tales will help children and parents struggling in the face of the pandemic.

‘Well received’

“Since the book was created we didn’t expect it to be so well received.

“It has already been translated into seven languages.

“It’s free and people download it.

“I’ve had so many messages from colleagues and from people I don’t even know, saying thank you, the book really helped.

“And the second book is now out which is about children being bored at home and Dr Betty helping them doing things at home.

Dr Betty and Jack Wee Rabbit

Dr Betty and Jack Wee Rabbit feature in the books. Illustration by George Nixon, nine.

“The key message is that it is actually OK to be bored. There is nothing wrong with that.”

Ioanna, who was born in Greece and moved to Scotland with her family five years ago, has lectured in compassion and resilience in the health service.

She saw one day how David, aged four, expressed his anxiety through play.

She said: “We saw our four year old building something that look very big with Lego…

‘Scared’

“He said he was building a big castle because he said he wanted to keep safe forever.

“I understood then that he was scared.

“Myself and his nine-year-old brother thought about how we could explain to him about the situation and help him out.

“That’s why we came up with the idea of the books.”

Mother and child

Dr Ioanna Nixon and her son David.

In the stories, Dr Betty the cat reassures Jack Wee Rabbit about the coronavirus and the measures being taken to stop its spread.

She sings a song at the end of the stories that put his mind at ease.

The second story addresses the issue of children becoming bored during lockdown.

Both were illustrated by George with bright drawings of the characters and happy motifs.

‘He said he was building a big castle because he said he wanted to keep safe forever. I understood then that he was scared’

Dr Ioanna Nixon

“I see many messages from parents saying ‘I don’t know what to do with kids, kids are bored’,” said Ioanna.

“We feel guilty, we don’t feel right. That’s how the second book was created.

“I am a doctor and oncologist. I am not a professional publisher in writing.

“I think it is important that we use whatever skills we have got to cope with what’s happening around us.

Dr Ioanna Nixon

Dr Ioanna Nixon

“I suppose for me it’s a way of responding to things and helping out in the best way I can.”

In her professional work, Ioanna says the coronavirus has changed the way she and her colleagues talk to cancer patients.

She told Glasgow West End Today: “People are not re-deployed in oncology because cancers carry on, so that remains a priority.

“The role is changing, however, because of the changes around us.

Hidden

“You need to speak to cancer patients about their treatments sometimes over the phone, or wearing a mask.

“It means having half your face hidden from the patients – and that’s not the way we would normally consult people.”

* The books are free to download. You can see ‘Jack Wee Rabbit Is Scared of Coranavirus’ here, and ‘Jack Wee Rabbit is Bored’ here.