Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has served under seven US presidents and has guided the national response to Covid-19, will soon be immortalized in a children’s book.
Simon & Schuster is putting the finishing touches on “Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor,” a book written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Alexandra Bye.
The publishing house said Sunday that the picture book will arrive in bookstores on June 29.
“There’s so much in his story that will resonate with kids today — riding his Schwinn bicycle around Brooklyn to deliver prescriptions from his dad’s pharmacy, playing stickball in the streets of a neighborhood where he learned to get along with all different kinds of people, and always asking questions about the world,” Messner told CNN Business.
Previous children’s books about newsworthy figures like Ruth Bader Ginsburg have found considerable success in the marketplace.
So now it is Fauci’s turn. He is not in the business of endorsing books, but a Simon & Schuster spokesperson said the book was written with his permission and approval, and he and his team were consulted throughout.
“Last spring,” Messner said, when asked about the project’s origins, “I’d contacted Dr. Fauci’s office with a quick question about another children’s book I was working on, about the childhood passions of people who grew up to be great scientists.”
Fauci responded to Messner via email, and the more Messner learned about his background and childhood, the more she thought there could be a standalone story to tell about him. She reached out to his office in the fall with the picture book biography idea and asked for an interview.
“I was aware that I was asking for time from someone who was literally one of the busiest people in America as he provided public health guidance during the worst of the pandemic, but I also knew that Dr. Fauci understands how essential education is in public health,” she said.
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.”