A little over a year ago, when Ninja Squirrel first dropped into my head, I did not fathom the world would be gripped in the pandemic crisis that it is today. People are frightened and angry. People in many parts of the world are seeking food, seeking shelter, and seeking to flee from an invisible enemy. It is heartbreaking. I can only imagine what it is like to be a child anywhere in the world right now. For some, the pandemic will become only fuzzy memories. For others, the pandemic has attacked their sense of security and their family's ability to put food on the table. For many, their homes have been taken away. Loved ones have been lost. Families have been separated. There is fear in the faces of the adults and they can't answer all of your questions, adding to your sense of unease.
The world must feel like it is ending. Wherein all this does my little story, and my little squirrel, fit? Many would say stories are only for times of peace and plenty. To this, I disagree. Some of the worst times in my life when I was young have been survivable only because I had a book in my hands. Stories remind us in dark times that there are better ones. Stories shed light on what real and imagined people have gone through so that we might be more understanding of one another in current times. Stories remind us to hope. They remind us in this disconnected world of the power of the human spirit. We will prevail. We will make a new world out of the pieces of the old. We will share meals, and share memories and laugh together again once this is done. And it will be done. This pandemic, although devastating, is temporary. And although at the end of it we may be changed, our characters remind us that with great change can come great good. At least, that is how I choose to view it. Although I realize even when the pandemic is done, the devastation in its wake will still have lasting effects on the traumatized people it leaves behind, kids included. Ninja Squirrel and the Nut of Destiny, a full-length novel, is in the final stages of being edited. There have been delays on both ends. Both writer and editor have had things to deal with that this pandemic has handed them personally. But we have not given up. I anticipate the book being available by the end of 2020. And there will be re-writes because what the world has gone through in recent weeks has crystallized the message that I want to say, that was already in Ninja Squirrel. I want to remind every kid out there that times can be hard, and life can be scary, but we will overcome. Take heart, no matter what happens. Take heart. And keep going. Ask for help if you need it and keep asking until you get it. Bad things happen, yes, this is true. Things may be changing, but not all change is bad. Keep going, take heart. Cry when you need to, rest if you must, but don't forget to laugh until your sides hurt. Don't give up. You aren't alone. Ninja Squirrel and I stand with you in the center of the storm. You might feel small and unheard. You might feel very scared and not very strong, and that's ok. Do your best, but keep going, one small step at a time.