‘Why Cannot I Play with My Mates?’ helps youngsters address COVID-19

play with friendsSherry Lottero and Tori Schoen, author and illustrator of “Why I Can’t Play With My Friends,” check out what has been completed. Courtesy TORI SCHOEN

Why I Can’t Play With My Friends
Written by Sherry Lottero, by Tori Schoen

Available at whycantIplaywithmyfriends.com
Funds are donated to My Children’s Fund, Feedmychildrendsfund.org.
Tori Schoen’s art appears on her Instagram page, @bytorschoen.

[email protected]


Why can’t I?

Parents know these questions.

But since March, when the country began to take action to eliminate COVID-19, questions have been difficult to answer.

The closure is now over – although some fear that we may be on the other side, due to the sheer number of cases – but this makes the questions difficult, simple.

Besides, if some stores are open, the kid thinks, why not play with my friends?

“Why I Can’t Play With My Friends” is the title of a new children’s picture book, written by New Jersey author Sherry Lottero, by Tori Schoen of Montclair, Montclair’s Class of 2016.

Called the “Pandemic Playbook for Kids,” the book features strong, bright pictures and a son named Alex, who asks, “Why can’t I go to the playground? Play a game?” I wonder why “Mom doesn’t go to the office? Is the father not going to work? ”





Alex’s parents sit him down and explain, which is accompanied by an image of a coronavirus around the world.

One would not like to say that the worm looks awkward, but it is safe to say that Schoen’s illustration is harmless.

Everything found in this book, is self-contained web page, go to Feed My Children Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to tackling child hunger around the world that works with organizations to save and distribute food, as well as with medical facilities to find and distribute supplements.

play with friends


Schoen is a 2020 graduate of Lafayette College; have completed their senior year online. He was at home in Montclair in late May when he received a text message from his former coach, Sherry Lottero. Lottero, from Fort Lee, taught Schoen, who suffers from bipolar disorder, from second to eighth grade, and they all work together.

“Why I Can’t Play With My Friends” is Schoen’s first book-making business, and it’s his turn: He often uses analogy, or handwriting, but he knows he wants the book to be more beautiful, so he decided to use numbers.

He wanted the illustrations to be explanatory, so that a child, even if he was too young to read, could look at the pictures and gain insight into what was happening.

That’s why he made brightly colored photos with Photoshop, using the pointing cursor on his way.

These figures are a clear indication to them that it also comes from Schoen, who often works in detail.

“Simple is the idea I had,” he said. This is also what Lottero wants.

By the time Schoen boarded, the recording had already taken place.

Lottero wrote quickly and wanted to get it out when the questions were new, so he wrote himself through Barnes & Noble.

“I didn’t do this to become a rich and famous writer,” he said. “I had to bring this up when it was very important for the kids.” He also wanted to raise money for the Children’s Fund My Children. “These are problems,” he said.

He had an idea at the end of the season sitting at his desk, and wondered what was going on.

He thought, “If I don’t know this, what are the kids thinking? Their whole lives are changing. They can’t see their friends, or go to school. Their families need to find out because I know what’s going on.”

The book seeks to help children understand how the place affects their lives, and inform them of what has happened.

Lottero worked as a teacher, literate, and often worked with young children. He teamed up with the team to open Hope School, a dairy school in Machakos, Kenya, in 2010, and continues to do so.

Having spent 16 years working in kindergarten, his ideas went into the picture books right away.

Ages 3 to 8 can seem overwhelming, but, Lottero said, an 8-year-old will have different questions from a three-year-old.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know how to talk [the pandemic], “Said Lottero.

This book is designed to be a starting point for teachers and caregivers.

play with friendsSherry Lottero and Tori Schoen have taken their book. Courtesy SHERRY LOTTERO


Creating digital, bright images was a learning process, said Schoen. Some pictures take hours, some, days.

“One of the things that I thought would be the hardest was going to be the hardest, and the most fun,” he said. The grocery picture has a variety of shapes and images: Alex’s mother is pushing the cart in the street, the shelves have different colored boxes, the sign says “People Distance / Be Controversial Foot 6.”

“This is the picture I fought for in the beginning,” Schoen said. In that parable he drew all the figures in the book.

Some pictures were copied along the way: The first page, a simple page of a boy looking out the window, was rewritten three times, he said.

Schoen thought about how as a child, Lottero would give his posters with small faces when he did well. He loves simple drawings, and keeps them in his head.

The only release was “very difficult,” Lottero said. “I’m done, for me this is like a victory.” She is not expecting a refund, and all is well: Her goal was to help the children and help with good things.

The publication of the book has been difficult, Lottero said. Although he knows many teachers who would have included him in the textbook, COVID-19, the same title in the book, he has also prevented the word from coming out.

He can count on Zoom.

Appearance on Fox5 TV has sparked interest in the project. Lafayette Student News also reported on “Why Can’t I Play With My Friends?”

Lottero has also received positive comments on his page, including one from Cathy Vitone, a retired senior at Bradford Elementary School, who calls the images “difficult.” Vitone writes that the book “responds to GOOD THINGS!”

For Schoen, it’s exciting to see this book on sale.

Both women know that people have COVID fatigue. Sometimes in this book it may not be necessary now, such as the page where the mother describes the towels.

But as the numbers rise, children will have questions, Schoen said. “Kids still ask, ‘Why can’t I see my friends,’ especially when it’s cold, and we’re going through a terrible winter.”

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