By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — When Tara Travieso was trying to explain social distancing to her 2 and 3-year-old daughters and what it meant for their lives — from no play dates to no school — she wanted to explain it to them in a way that would make them aware, but not scared.
Travieso, of Jacksonville, Florida, decided to use something she knew her daughters Alex and Addison love: bubbles.
“I painted this picture by saying pretend that there’s a bubble around you that’s going to keep you safe,” Travieso, a benefits consultant, told Good Morning America. “We’re all in our own bubbles right now and it keeps the germs outside of our bubbles and if we’re sick it keeps the germs inside of our bubble so we don’t get other people sick.”
“If you get too close to someone the bubble could pop and we don’t want to pop our bubble,” she said she told her daughters. “I mentioned it one day on a walk in the neighborhood and the next day my older daughter Alex brought it up to me and said, ‘We can go on a walk but we have to stay in our bubbles.’”
When she saw how quickly her own daughters took to the idea, and got positive feedback from other parents with whom she shared the idea, Travieso got to work writing a children’s book.
Just six weeks later, Travieso self-published her first book, Billie and the Brilliant Bubble: Social Distancing for Children.
“I knew that it was relevant right now and that if I was going to help people I had to get it out quickly, so I felt a lot of pressure to put this book together and get it out and available as quickly as possible,” she said. “It took me six weeks from the moment I had the idea to the day that I published and I had had no experience in this world before.”
Travieso researched online to find out how to write and publish a book herself, reading articles and watching YouTube videos to figure out everything from getting an ISBN number for the book to deciding on its size. She and her husband Robert are both working full-time at home while also caring for their daughters due to the pandemic, so she wrote the book late at night, often after midnight when her kids were in bed and her work was done.
The book — which is available on Amazon.com and other online retailers and in bookstores across the country — tells the story of a young girl named Billie who has an imaginary bubble to keep her safe, according to Travieso. It follows Billie as she goes to a park and meets new friends, who learn about her imaginary bubble and then want one themselves.
Travieso used a freelancer website to find an illustrator and worked with Bazma Ahmad, a mother of two in India with whom Travesio said she bonded immediately.
“She has two boys and we related very quickly in many ways,” she said of Ahmad. “I wanted every page in this book to be beautiful, to be really eye-catching and to be able to hold a child’s attention.”
Travieso said she has heard from schools who would like to feature the book in their classrooms and from parents who are happy to have a way to explain today’s difficult times to their children in a way they can understand.
Travieso is now using the idea of imaginary bubbles to talk with her own daughters about a brighter future ahead.
“We talk about when we’re all going to pop our bubbles, all the fun things we’re going to do and it’s something to look forward to,” she said. “My daughter will say, ‘Well when our bubbles pop we can go out to a fancy restaurant.’”
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