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For this kid, the lockdown unlocked the writer within

Not all stories that come out of the pandemic are bad. Here is one of them.

boy with book
Image: StockSnap via Pixabay

There’s a cute Disney song that goes:

[Kid’s verse] “Stranded! I’ve been grounded – the one time I did nothing wrong,

And I’ve never been so bored, that’s why I’m singing this here song, 

I’ve lost morale, miss my best pal, I long to ride my pig on the freeway…

[Parent’s verse]

It’s not time to go out, must keep my children occupied, 

If only they published and Endless Lockdown Parent’s Guide,

No outdoor tasks without our masks,

We wash our hands until they’re dry as HAYYYYYYYY…”

For many Philly kids who have been stuck at home for months – either being homeschooled or learning virtually – this little rhyme rings true. 

Nine-year-old Fionn Wilson could have spent his time quarantined at home playing video games, over-snacking in front of the TV or sucked into screen time with whatever digital device his parents afforded him. Instead, he decided to write a children’s book. He even managed to get it published. And It’s sold so many copies he’s donating part of the proceeds to charity.

Despite the dumpster fire this year has been, an inspiring story did come my way not long ago. So I wanted to use this space this week to share it with you. Hopefully, it will leave you feeling hopeful, thankful and a little less cynical about the future.

Wilson, who lives just outside Philly with his parents Rory and Kyran, suffers from seasonal allergies and has had to miss out on school, sports and other fun times because of it. But it was just this challenge that brought his imagination to life. 

boy with book
Fionn Wilson with his book, “Colin Pollen”

A few months ago, Fionn wrote “Colin Pollen,” a children’s book about a little boy (like himself) who suffers from seasonal allergies but overcomes them in the end. Rory Wilson said Fionn had the idea for the character several years ago, but only felt energized to put pen to paper (or, in this case, crayon) when he was forced to be extra creative with his down time.

“So, we asked Fionn, ‘What do you want to do with your time since we have so much of it?’ And he said, ‘I want to be an author.’”

– Rory Wilson

“As COVID struck, it was a lot of confusion…We really didn’t know what was going on,” said Rory.

“We were keeping abreast of the news but it was changing so fast. We were all a little bit worried, but rather than delving into the fear that was coming out of the TV every day, we said, ‘OK, let’s sit down and make a list of all the stuff that we want to do. We know we are going to be home. We probably will be for a while.’ 

“So, we asked Fionn, ‘What do you want to do with your time since we have so much of it?’ And he said, ‘I want to be an author.’”

That’s when Fionn’s parents decided to help him realize his dream. They told Fionn to do some research on how to make it happen. So he drew the illustrations, developed a concept and storyboard and moved along to next steps. He found an online publisher, got a copyright, and, as of Dec. 1, “Colin Pollen” had sold 70 copies on Amazon.

“It was such a crappy time, so we decided, let’s make something, because being creative makes you feel better,” said Rory.

Once the book started making a small profit, the Wilsons decided to donate some of it to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), which focuses on advancing treatment for allergies, asthma and immunology for patients across the U.S.

Fionn told me he’s writing a sequel to “Colin Pollen” and plans for the books to be a series.

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  • PW Editor Jenny DeHuff

    Jenny DeHuff has been a part of the Philadelphia media landscape for the last 15 years on just about every level of journalism. She started out at The Bulletin, a conservative voice for Philadelphia, then moved through the region as she honed her career as the City Hall reporter at the Daily News, and later as an editor at Philly Voice. As Philadelphia Weekly's editor-in-chief, DeHuff brings a viewpoint that constantly begs the question of a progressive-leaning Philadelphia. Say hello at jdehuff@philadelphiaweekly.com.

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