2020 can be summed up as the '"Year of the Mask." And with several vaccines on the horizon, we all hoped with bated breath to be rid of them in 2021. But no matter what you think of masks, it doesn't look like masks are going away any time soon.
I personally struggled in 2020 to find a way to explain to my children what's going on in the world and why we needed to wear masks without terrifying them. After a rough trip to the doctor's office this past summer, trying to get a mask on my 3-year-old while he was trying to take mine off (...everything ended up falling on the floor--hats, sunglasses, my bag, its contents...), I came home feeling pretty defeated.
As I thought about it more, I realized we're in a new normal that is not feeling very normal. Then it hit me. Astronauts wear a type of mask and wouldn't think twice about it in space. So do cowboys, scuba divers, baseball catchers, chemists, firemen, doctors, blacksmiths, superheroes, and even kids when they play pin the tail! If you think about it, the list goes on and on! I do not know if wearing face masks will ever feel as *normal* as this, but I thought instead of focusing on germs and a horrible virus, we sure can make masks more relatable for our young children if we show them how they’re completely normal in a lot of other situations.
After searching for a book for my toddler along these lines with no luck, I decided to write my own: Marvelous Masks. The first time I read Marvelous Masks to my son, he said, "tell me more about those guys with the masks..." The second time I read the book to my son, he said, "I want that mask, I want that mask...!" and by the end of the story he wanted a mask so badly that we pulled some out of the drawer for him to wear right then and there.
It felt like magic--masks are normal (when pigs fly--they are)!? My toddler went from clamming up seeing others wear masks to asking me for a mask so he could wear one too.
This past Fall, my son and I had a successful doctor's visit (flu shot) wearing our matching bear masks. Now, when we go to the park, he asks for a mask and reminds me to put mine on as well. Knowing how much this book helped my family, I wanted to share my story in hopes that it helps other families, or at least gives some kiddos a smile during what has been a very challenging time. As an added bonus, I’ve learned from parents that their children have enjoyed reading about all the different “occupations” in the book (is being a witch an occupation?) and role-playing them.
I am donating all book proceeds (after costs) to charity to help those in need during this unprecedented time.
Do you know any little ones who are wary of wearing masks or do not want to keep them on? Do you have an upcoming event or travel and you are not sure your child will wear a mask when required? Have you been trying to find a way to help your child feel comfortable wearing a mask? Then Marvelous Masks is for you!
A fun and lighthearted book that explains how masks have been part of our world for a long time — not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this charming story, the marvelous mouse and his friends try on all different kinds of masks and show just how fun and normal wearing masks can be. Parents, grandparents and teachers can use this book to help explain to their children why we all need to wear masks sometimes — from cowboys, doctors, and baseball catchers to superheroes and more! There is no specific mention of germs or COVID-19, leaving room for adults to have that conversation with their children as they desire. Inspired by my own children, I hope that this story helps take children's stress out of needing to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Title: Marvelous Masks
Author/illustrator/Publisher: Nicole Billick
ISBNs: 978-1-7356915-0-3 (paperback); 978-1-7356915-2-7 (hardcover); 978-17356915-3-4 (e-book coming soon!)
Let's Have Some Fun With Masks!
Here are some fun activities that you can do with your students and children as you read Marvelous Masks.
1. Choose the Mask
What kind of mask would you wear if you were ____? (e.g., going to the moon? going to play football? dressing up as a superhero?) You can use the masks on this page of the book, draw your own, or find your own around the house (if you have a witch’s mask, can you send me one??)
And a quick fun story about this page of the book, the first time my son saw these drawings, he said, "That's Daddy!," pointing to the mask with the big nose, dark eye glasses, and bushy eyebrows and mustache. And, well, Dad does have dark glasses and a mustache...
2. Which Mask Would You Buy and Why?
The Marvelous Mouse and his friends are on a shopping excursion! Which mask do you think is the coolest? What masks do you think they will buy? Which marvelous mask(s) would you buy, and why?
3. Pin the Tail on the [Insert Your Favorite Animal Here]
When is the last time you've played a solid game of pin the tail?? Will our Marvelous Mouse pin the tail on the cat? No peeking!
4. What Other Sports Use Masks?
Will the Marvelous Mouse hit the ball?! Do you like to play (or watch) baseball? Can you think of another sport where the players wear masks (fencing? football?)? What animal would be your marvelous mascot?? (I love baseball and softball. I played pitcher and catcher on my high school softball team!)
5. What Other Professions Use Masks?
Oh dear, it looks like Elephant m ay be making a marvelous mess! What do chemists do? Can you think of other professions that wear masks?? (Great opportunity to discuss careers.)
6. Help Make Frog’s Mask!
What do you think our Marvelous Witch is making? ...Was that frog always a frog? It looks like he needs a mask! Can you help make him one? Maybe use some fabric or construction paper...and pipe cleaners? He told me to tell you that his favorite color is green.
7. Dress Up Time!
What do you like to dress up as / what is your favorite costume? Lots of great costumes use a marvelous mask! Have you tried making or decorating a mask? -- Use pipe cleaners, boxes, paint, glue, glitter, you name it. This is a great time to go pretend and have some fun!!
What do you think our friends decided to buy from the Marvelous Masks shop? What was your favorite marvelous mask? I would love to hear what it is!
Last but not least, where are you wearing your marvelous mask today?
Free Story Times of Marvelous Masks
See the story time tab for a free author reading of Marvelous Masks.
See 'Events' on the 'Home' page for other free read-a-louds of Marvelous Masks.
About the Author
Nicole Billick lives in Tucson, Arizona with her infant daughter, 3-year-old son, unwaveringly supportive husband, and their sweet (but slightly neurotic) cockapoo. Nicole has been drawing since she was a kid--staying up late with a flashlight under the covers. She enjoys walking her dog and the challenge of gardening in 110+ degree heat. She's probably feeding the baby or cooking something right now, but likely nothing from her garden. (See her withered peppers in the photo above!) She has a BA from Boston University and an MBA from Yale.
Visit her online at www.nicolebillick.com and see what the marvelous mouse, pig and elephant are up to, and find out what their favorite recipes and activities are! You can also find Nicole here:
And on Instagram: njbillick