We Wear Masks
We Wear Masks
An artist infusing the city with charm
is wearing a mask to protect them from harm.
Recognizing that the current pandemic focus on mask-wearing may be causing various degrees of anxiety in young children, Marla Lesage, a New Brunswick registered nurse, author, artist and mother of two young children, has written and illustrated We Wear Masks to show her young readers that the wearing masks of various types is something that many people had been doing pre-Covid-19 (and continue to do). Through a series of double-page spreads accompanied by a rhyming couplet text, Lesage introduces children to people who wear a variety of masks or other face coverings for work or play.
Lesage begins with a person spray-painting an orca wall mural while wearing a respirator mask. Next up are a couple of horse-riding ranchers who have placed bandanas over their noses and mouths “to keep out the flies” (and dust?). A high flying pilot dons an oxygen mask while two children playing outdoors in the winter cover their faces, one using a scarf and the other a balaclava. Underwater divers utilize masks to keep water out of their eyes and noses while also accessing air. Safety is the reason why welders use helmets and lab scientists put on masks while working. Playing a role in a play or being a superhero also sometimes calls for sporting a mask. Lesage’s final example is:
Now everyday heroes all wearing masks.
like doctors and nurses at work on their tasks.
Lesage then transitions into children’s use of masks and offers some examples wherein children can find fun and play in wearing Covid-19 masks. Of added value is Lesage’s mentioning “a mask with a window”, one that will allow the wearer’s mouth to be seen and which will, therefore, assist those with hearing challenges.
Lesage closes with:
When I wear a mask and you wear one too,
we’re both really saying, “I care about you.”
It is left to the adult readers to explain to their young listeners how mask-wearing equates with caring. In keeping with her intent to have the book’s contents allay fears, Lesage illustrates using a cartoon style, and her characters reflect Canada’s multicultural makeup.
We Wear Masks is a book for the moment in which we find ourselves, and it offers a ready avenue for opening discussions with our children about what is occurring in the world around them. And, if the book is a home purchase, decades from now, we can pull it out and share it with our grandchildren and tell them about the pandemic their grandparents and parents experienced.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, wears a number of literal and metaphorical masks in Winnipeg, Manitoba.