It’s in the headlines everywhere, as schools across the country have recorded heavy student absences this fall, with children laid low with flu symptoms. H1N1. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Children, whether they’ve come down with it already or not, want to know more about the illness that’s sweeping across the globe and directly affecting their lives. To help parents and educators answer questions and assuage children’s fears about this virulent virus, Stone Arch Books, an imprint of Capstone Publishers, is currently offering free downloads of its January 2010 release, Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter, a middle-grade novel. The download will be available until the book’s release date, January 1.

In Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter, 13-year old Finn is assigned to keep a journal for his English class. Little does he know that his journal will turn into a record of a major flu pandemic. Somehow, he survives infection, and as his school population dwindles, Finn faces down the school bully, draws comics, catches the principal ordering pizza, endures a string of bizarre substitute teachers, and even manages to study once in a while.

“Kids are curious and have real questions about H1N1,” said Joan Berge, president of Capstone Publishers. “Our realistic and humorous story talks about the pandemic in a fresh new way, explaining the virus on a level kids can relate to and understand. It gives them facts without adding to their fears,”

The book’s back matter includes a glossary, further discussion questions, tips for staying healthy, and author and illustrator information. The download is available here.