To be clear, this is a children’s book about Fauci, not by Fauci. If it were written by him, the title would be what a Twitter pal imagined: “Oh The Places You’ll Go, If You’re Lucky, Wearing Seven Masks In A Small Group in 2042.”
The actual title is “Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor,” but to Trumpers I assume it’ll be known colloquially as “The Ass In A Mask” soon enough.
The salient fact about a Fauci-themed children’s book is that a kid young enough to enjoy will likely be too young to know who Fauci is or why he’s famous. The target audience is parents, presumably Democratic-leaning parents given how unpopular Fauci’s become on the right. Now that Dr. Seuss has been deemed ungood, left-leaning moms and dads are in the market for stories about some new fantastical creature and his amazing adventures.
Who better than the mischievous gnome who managed to impishly fool an entire country of people about subjects like whether masks are useful and how much herd immunity we’ll need to beat the virus?
It's cover reveal day for DR. FAUCI: HOW A BOY FROM BROOKLYN BECAME AMERICA'S DOCTOR!
I'm so excited to share Alexandra Bye's amazing cover art for our picture book biography – out 6/29 from @SimonKIDS.
— katemessner (@KateMessner) March 21, 2021
Love hearing these stories! And guess what? Those stickball games that Dr. Fauci played with his friends made it into the pages of our picture book! (art not final) https://t.co/gl8o5MR4t7 pic.twitter.com/fcqp5tW3DL
— katemessner (@KateMessner) March 22, 2021
The book was written with Fauci’s “permission and approval,” per CNN:
Messner interviewed Fauci a couple of times “at the edges of his long work days,” she said, one time on a Zoom call while he was heading home from the office, and another time in the early-morning hours. She also drew from his public speeches and interviews. Then she incorporated stories about his upbringing into the book.
She said she was struck by his “determined curiosity” and his effectiveness as a communicator.
“Before Tony Fauci was America’s doctor, he was a kid with a million questions, about everything from the tropical fish in his bedroom to the things he was taught in Sunday school,” she said. “I’m really hopeful that curious kids who read this book — those we’re counting on to solve tomorrow’s scientific challenges — will see themselves in the pages of Dr. Fauci’s story and set their goals just as high.”
The story ends with young Fauci outsmarting a big orange monster who wants everyone to protect themselves from disease by injecting bleach. No, just kidding. Anyway, there are worse lessons for kids than “if you’re inquisitive you should go into medicine and help people.” And apparently the book will include “a full spread of facts about vaccines and how they work,” which may be useful in making more children comfortable with the idea of getting their shots and in priming them to be more skeptical of anti-vax paranoia in adulthood.
I’m intrigued by the scheduled release date: June 29, more than three months from today. Conceivably that’s the earliest Simon & Schuster can have it in stores; it’s possible that the artwork isn’t finished yet or that production and distribution will take awhile. But it occurs to me that the end of June is right around the time we’re expecting the pandemic to finally fade away as we approach herd immunity. (The NYT’s vaccine tracker currently predicts 70 percent of all adults will have had their first shots by June 20.) America’s Summer of Fun should be in full swing at that point or about to bust loose on July 4 and that means a lot of TV time for the White House and its most visible public-health deputies. If all goes well for S&S, Fauci will be on television every day during release week taking a victory lap on the government’s behalf for the vaccination program and the impending end of COVID as a day-to-day threat. A lot of relieved parents will see the Fauci book in the kiddie-lit section of the bookstore and may snap it up on impulse, in a fit of gratitude.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s Scott Gottlieb explaining how the federal government’s slow-footed public-health wing failed us repeatedly by taking too long to adjust to the realities of the coronavirus.
"There were some important ways that we both overestimated and underestimated this virus. I don't think we learned quickly enough." Former FDA Commissioner @ScottGottliebMD makes the case for more transparency around the CDC recommendations. https://t.co/i76EDmFDBw pic.twitter.com/jLN6t76P7Q
— CNBC (@CNBC) March 22, 2021