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A young artist’s Covid diary

Kindergartener illustrates book on her experience during the pandemic

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For Angela Lin, a former student at Grace Lutheran School in Malverne, pictures really are worth a thousand words. When the school went into lockdown in March, Angela, 5, was searching for ways to express herself. She did so by drawing and painting pictures of what was happening.

“She doesn’t talk a lot,” her mother, Celine Lin, of Valley Stream, said of Angela, “but whenever she’s home, she just wants to draw.”

Celine, who is Chinese, said that because her daughter struggles with English, painting became a way for her to engage with her classmates on Zoom. Amazed by her artwork, Angela’s pre-kindergarten teacher at Grace Lutheran, April Schachtel, suggested to her parents that they create a book, and they did just that. They published a book called “Little An’s Covid-19 Diary: During the Lockdown in New York,” last month. Each page featured Angela’s paintings accompanied with a description in her own words.

“They took my suggestion to heart,” Schachtel said. “She would draw things that were just so lifelike, as if you had taken a picture of it. Her pictures were always amazing, because you could tell what she was drawing. I just hope she never loses her passion.”

Grace Lutheran Principal Wanda Walters reflected on Angela’s progress during her two years at the school. “Angela came to us in the 3-year-old program, and she couldn’t speak any English at all,” Walters recalled. “She’s always been very meticulous about drawing, making things and being creative. As she got older, she continued to draw and color, and we’re very excited to learn that she put together this Covid-19 diary and book.”

Now a kindergartner at James A. Dever Elementary School in Valley Stream, Angela returned to Grace Lutheran on Oct. 9, after Walters ordered copies of her book for the school. Walters read the book to students as part of Angela’s special visit.

“I call her our first preschool author and illustrator,” Walters said. “The detail, the artwork . . . to see that she has it in her makes us feel so honored and privileged.”

Celine Lin and her husband, Ray, take their daughter on trips to museums around the state as a way to inspire her. They attribute their own love of art to Malvernite Arthur Raymond, a World War II veteran and artist whom they befriended a few years ago.

“He seems to be in a very peaceful place because of painting,” Celine said. “I’d like the same for my daughter, since she loves to paint.”

While Celine, an antiques dealer, and Ray, a financial consultant, are not artists themselves, they see their daughter’s growth through artwork and have encouraged her to keep painting. The couple hope to publish another book of Angela’s paintings in the near future.

“I think we, as parents, both felt that this was a good milestone for her,” Ray said. “It encourages her to develop more skills through drawing, because it actually gives her a lot of confidence, and now she’s getting some fame in her school community.”

The Lins donated a copy of the book to Malverne and Rockville Centre’s public libraries, and they plan to give copies to other local libraries. In addition, they hope to donate the proceeds of Angela’s book to local charities.