The Safe Return

The Safe Return: Kids Wear Masks for a Safe Return to Fun During COVID-19

Children - Picture Book
54 Pages
Reviewed on 09/10/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Melinda Facal for Readers' Favorite

The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans, illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz, takes the reader on a fast-paced and exhilarating bike ride while capturing the happy and resilient nature of children. This children’s book can be read in two ways; with everyone in the story wearing a face mask as during the Covid-19 crisis, and a second version for when the crisis is resolved, without face masks being worn. No special emphasis is placed on the fact that everyone is wearing a mask, which will help to normalize this situation for children. In the story, a father takes his daughter and a few of her friends on a bike ride through their neighborhood. Along the way, the children encounter a few ups and downs, but they always rally and help one another.

The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans is an enjoyable and important story for the times we are living in. The children in this story are focused on the joy of being outside riding their bikes, even if a mask must be worn. Warm and colorful illustrations throughout the book add to the upbeat tone of this story. The delight and freedom the children express while on a simple bike ride send a positive and encouraging message to children that there are good times to be had and that we will all get through this difficult time together. As people all over the world try to safely re-engage in activities, this book shows children enjoying themselves and making the best of a challenging situation.

Jack Magnus

The Safe Return: Kids Wear Masks for a Safe Return to Fun During COVID-19 is a children’s health and social issues picture book written by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans, and illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz. It’s fun to get out and ride bikes with friends while dad runs along, but we need to remember the rules about social distancing and wearing masks. Keeping a safe distance is easy if you just make it an automatic thing, but sometimes even dad needs to be reminded to keep his distance. Seeing friends again and riding together to the park is the best of all possible worlds. Someday, we can all ride more closely together, and we won’t always have to wear masks, but for now, it’s important to stay safe while still having fun.

Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans's The Safe Return shows kids how they can still have fun interacting with their peers and make sure that everyone stays healthy. While being told to wear a mask and socially distance yourself is the right message, this book illustrates it in action, which often can influence a kid or adult more than words alone can. Abigail Gray Swartz’s bright and cheerful illustrations convey the togetherness of dad and the children -- even though they are spaced apart -- and make it seem infinitely doable and preferable to being home alone. The authors also include a version of the book which, while maintaining social distancing, shows the riders and dad without masks, but I’m hoping that most will stick with the message conveyed in the main section. Kids are so affected by and confused about this pandemic, and their lives have been dramatically changed. They miss the interaction with their friends, and many even miss school. This book shows them and their parents how easily a return to having fun with friends can be safe at the same time. The Safe Return: Kids Wear Masks for a Safe Return to Fun During COVID-19 is most highly recommended.

Barbara Fanson

The Safe Return is an easy-to-read story of children having fun riding their bikes, wearing face masks, and maintaining social distancing. They ride down a hill with their father jogging behind. They are demonstrating the new norm of physical distancing and wearing facemasks. I love how authors Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans have written the story with two-word or three-word sentences. Interesting technique, not used often, easy to read, easy to relate. The book title will have readers wondering “Is it a safe return to playing with other children or the safe return of the lost plush?” I think public and school libraries would benefit from the interesting story technique and warm and inviting illustrations. Perhaps parents will encourage children to copy the images in the book and take a spin!

Illustrated by Abigail Gray Swartz, the full-color artwork in The Safe Return is very well done. The watercolor illustrations invite children into the book where they can enjoy the story and relate to the images. Her choice of color is interesting with blue grass or yellow bushes. We can see the emotions on faces when they’re having a good time or when they fall or when they lose their favorite plush. I believe teachers and parents will want to have this book on their shelf as an example of a different writing style with its very short sentences of two to 5 words. No adjectives. No adverbs. No pronouns. Authors Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans have written an interesting book that everyone—children and parents—can relate to.