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Debut author Laena-Mae Turner creates an inspiring storybook to unite family, friends, and people. This eight-year-old girl brings hope to children in isolation.

“The most remarkable thing about Laena-Mae is not so much the age she published her book, but how much she has been through and is still persevering. She is truly remarkable and inspiring to people around her.” Zoe Brown, TV and Radio Presenter

Laena-Mae Turner recently penned a book on the COVID-19 pandemic viewed from a child’s perspective. The young author, raised by single mother Candice Turner, is no stranger to writing and poetry. She wrote the book as a means to explain how children are in a shared experience. Together, hope prevails.

Inside We Stayed for Months and Days is a humorous and insightful picture book following children around the world during an international lockdown. It offers understanding and unity as we collectively react to disastrous news from across the globe. The beautifully-illustrated tome and snapshot of COVID-19 was illustrated by Botswanan-born Simone De Ruyck. “Laena-Mae had a very clear vision of what the images would look like. Simone and Laena-Mae worked so well together to bring her vision to life,” shares Candice.

No stranger to isolation

Laena-Mae was only a few days old when doctors diagnosed her with a life-threatening autoimmune disease known as hypogammaglobulinemia. Having spent weeks in and out of hospital throughout her life, she is no stranger to living in isolation. Not only did she survive tubercolosis at the young age of three, but also multiple illnesses due to a severely compromised immune system. She is incredibly resilient, and her optimism throughout the pandemic is admirable.

“Laena has not seen or been near children since the beginning of 2020 as a safety precaution; and yet, throughout the lockdown, she has shown such strength of character,” confirms Candice. “I believe that writing this book was a way for Laena-Mae to connect with the outside world and come to terms with isolation and the entire COVID-19 experience.”

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One of the youngest published authors in South Africa

Laena-Mae is one of the youngest published authors in South Africa, and is the youngest child globally to write and publish a book on the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted to write a book for children across the world to help them realise that no matter how lonely it is to be stuck at home, we are all so brave to live in this new world,” she shares. “Not being able to play with our friends and stay home is only for a short while. By staying home and wearing masks, we’re helping the world get better from this terrible virus.”

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Published by Miss Mae Books in partnership with Braille Media, Inside We Stayed for Months and Days is available at leading bookstores and online globally.