Scrub by Suzanne Belliveau Children’s Book Review
Scrub loves washing germs away. One day, a really nasty virus shows up. Is this simple soap up to the challenge?
SCRUB is a fun story told in rhyming verse that follows a soap bar on his encounter with the coronavirus. It is a good resource to open the discussion about the virus and the importance of washing hands to prevent its spread.
No matter your size, you can make a difference. Even those who often get overlooked can make a big impact when they use their unique gifts for good. We can all do our part to protect and care for others, no matter how ordinary we might seem. This truth has been especially true as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, and Scrub by Suzanne Belliveau is a wonderful way to reinforce the message with young children.
In this story, Scrub – a simple bar of soap – faithfully washes away dirt and grime as he dreams of something bigger. He knows that helping clean hands and bodies is important, but he’s ready to face something more challenging! He practices and trains for fighting a “mean virus” like the flu, but he’s still waiting on the chance.
Then one day, he comes face to face with the nastiest virus of all – the coronavirus! Using the skills he’s learned as an ordinary bar of soap, he can keep everyone healthy. He kicks that virus to the curb and finds some fame in the process! At the end of the story, Scrub realizes that he’s not interested in being a hero; he just wants to do a good job.
As we struggle to explain the pandemic to young kids, this is a sweet, heartfelt story that can help. Kids can see themselves in Scrub – he doesn’t have any fancy tricks, just a desire to be brave and do good. And – bonus – it helps make handwashing fun! The bubbly drawings and bouncy rhymes make this story even more fun to read. This is the kind of story that works for tiny kiddos and older ones too – the story is simple, while the themes it introduces have big implications! This is a great book to introduce ideas like sacrifice, humility, and courage; we know you will enjoy it as much as we did!
Where Can I Find "Scrub by Suzanne Belliveau?"
About the Author, Suzanne Belliveau
“I live in Ottawa, ON with my spouse, son (3), and daughter (1). I work in international development. I lived in Central America for almost a decade, and then returned to Canada to start a family. I now run my own consulting business supporting non-profit and similar organizations.” – Suzanne Belliveau
Rapid Fire with Suzanne Belliveau
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
Suzanne: I read a lot of picture books with my three-year-old son. We read a range of books, but both of us prefer stories told in rhyme. Julia Donaldson, Rachel Bright, and Dr. Seuss, of course, are among our favorites. These are examples of great stories that have interesting characters (often animals), are humorous, and take us on the fast-paced journey from build-up, challenge, climax, and resolution one verse at a time.
I replicate this model in my own stories. I admit, however, that the illustrations can make or break a story. I have to give full compliments to illustrator Jennifer Thornhill who really captured the essence of Scrub, a simple but scrappy and determined bar of soap.
Q. Tell us about your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Suzanne: Over the last two years, I have written several stories. They are all rhyming picture book stories on a range of topics – some that are just fun stories inspired by daily events and others written around a social issue or message. If I succeed with Scrub, I would like to publish more books and continue to use them as platforms to raise funds for different causes and organizations.
Q. How did you become involved in the subject or theme of your book?
Suzanne: I work in international development. I used to work with the Red Cross in Central America. I managed several health projects, each of which had an element of communicating messages about prevention – how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, preventing common illnesses like measles, preventing infant mortality, etc.
We tried different creative ways to reach audiences, from posters to handwashing demonstrations to puppet shows. I was also there during the AH1N1 outbreak, so I supported the local Guatemalan Red Cross in carrying out awareness campaigns on preventing the spread.
Now, I am the recipient of prevention messaging coming from our local authorities about washing hands and social distancing. Scrub is a way to put some creativity into the message and have some fun with it.
Q. What inspired you to write this book as a writer?
Suzanne: I was on maternity leave when the pandemic started and when the stay-at-home orders were put in place. I was already staying at home quite a bit with my two kids, but it meant we had very few places we could go to keep sane.
I was not really telling my then 2.5-year old too many details about what was happening initially, just that stores and playgrounds were closed because people were getting sick. But as it dragged on, I had to find a way to explain what was happening and why we had to wash our hands all the time.
I had been looking for a new story idea, so it seemed like the right time to have a story about viruses and soap. I had to look up the scientific reasoning for why there is an emphasis on soap while washing hands, and I discovered that, in short, the fat of the soap breaks down the virus by dissolving the outer layer. When I saw that, it was clear that the story had to be about a karate-chopping soap.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Suzanne: These days, I am with my kids… a lot. I run a consulting business providing project support to non-profit organizations, municipalities, or other entities working towards a social impact.
I work from home, as many are, while the pandemic continues. During the day, I am the creative director for the kids’ daily activities, whether that be crafts, biking, card games, or discovering our new favorite book from the library.
Q. What does your creative process look like?
Suzanne: I think best while I am walking or running. I started writing children’s books during maternity leave, so I would often go for a walk with the stroller or go for a run and think of the book’s next lines.
Since my stories are rhyming, I define the overall storyline first, but then I let the rhymes guide the story. Sometimes, I make a wrong turn and have to backtrack, finding different rhyming words to take the story in another direction.
Q. Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with your readers about?
Suzanne: Scrub has been translated into French. It is in the final design stage and will be available mid-November for sale. I am happy to be able to offer it in two languages. I am also happy with how we were able to keep the rhyme, rhythm, and storyline in another language. If there is enough interest, I would be happy to have a Spanish version as well!
Q. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Suzanne: As I mentioned, the story is based on the science of how soap works. It breaks down the virus’s outer layer, which then gets washed away; bubbles latch on to germs and dirt and then creates a slippery surface to wash it all away.
So the main message is that we all need to use soap when we wash our hands. But the other message is that prevention doesn’t have to be a drag. We have all heard many times that we need to wash our hands over the last year, and it can feel monotonous.
Scrub gets the same point across, but in a much more fun way. I don’t know about other readers, but I definitely picture my soap practicing karate chops in his dish when I’m not around.
Q. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Suzanne: As I mentioned, I wrote the book during the early stages of the pandemic. It was clear that many people would be struggling with stay-at-home orders and the loss of employment. But with two little ones at home, I was not in a position to go assist directly.
So the reason I went ahead to publish this book, rather than leave it in a folder on the computer like other stories, was to use it as a fundraising tool. And I have stuck with that, with a portion of proceeds going to Food Banks Canada.
Q. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Suzanne: I often hear from the parents who have bought the book directly from me that their kids love the book and ask to reread it. Elementary school teachers and principals have welcomed this much-needed book, making their own activities around the story.
A reader writes: “Of course, the conversation has long been about dealing with COVID-19 in the schools and getting the young children to do the hand sanitizing. So she gave a copy to the principal. She was thrilled to get the book, and it has been used in all of the elementary grades. The principal also told other principals in the District about it, and we are told many have ordered their own copies to use at their schools. The one my wife knows has also had a “SCRUB DAY” at the school, and you can guess who the star of the day was!”
But the best reaction is from my own little reader. When I finally got the first copy of the finished book, I read it with my son, who promptly smashed the Corona, saying, “Go away, virus!” We continue to talk about Scrub daily when we wash our hands or at bath time as the soap bar slides down his arms and peeks through his toes.
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All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you!
* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Suzanne Belliveau in exchange for an honest review.