At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in Manhattan, ambulance sirens wailed all day long outside the two-bedroom apartment where Stefanie Trilling lives with her husband, two children, aged 5 ½ and 2, and their dog. “It was really upsetting. Because my daughter is old enough to understand what was going on, she’d ask, ‘Do the people in the ambulance have coronavirus? Are they going to die? ‘”Says Trilling. “I answer have the answers. The best I could do was say, ‘I don’t know, but we’re going to do the best we can to stay safe as a family, and that’s why we’re staying inside.’ So then I went to the distraction. technique. ”
She found it in art: Specifically, in reworking children’s books covers.
“One day I took out the paint,” says Trilling, who had never painted much. “I see one of the Elephant and Piggie books [the children’s series by Mo Willems]. I started painting the characters, and I started painting in a cartoonified coronavirus and I changed ‘Piggie’ to ‘COVID-19.’ “
She posted it on Instagram to share with her friends, who loved it and demanded that she do another cover. So she did “Pete the Cat and the Bad Corona.” Then her ideas started snowballing, one cover after another. “Green Eggs and Wash Your Hands,” “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Time Home,” “Llama Llama Has Changed Pajamas.”
And that’s how Children’s Books for Pandemics, now a wildly popular social media phenomenon, was born. (“Multimedia parodist finding the best in a collectively bad situation,” reads Trilling’s Instagram bio.)
While painting helped the time go by, the colorful covers provided Trilling with a non-threatening way to discuss the situation with her daughter. “We talked about what viruses are and why we are staying in. It gave her the context in which she could ask questions. “
She hopes to sell prints and use a portion of the proceeds to help children in hard-hit neighborhoods.
And as for whether this has made her see the city differently?
“I see a lot of friends who are leaving, just packing up their apartments,” says Trilling. “But this is my home. This is where family built my family. This is where I live, and this is where I love. “It’s a transition state, but I know it’s going to come out on the other side, and I want to be a part of it.”