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HomeFarming News81-year-old OT’s overuse of antibiotics in childhood inspires writing career
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

81-year-old OT’s overuse of antibiotics in childhood inspires writing career

81-year-old Janice Maximov Condon – an occupational therapist with a keen interest in nutrition for wellness – is passionate about sharing her important message about gut microbes that came from personal experience: the overuse of antibiotics in childhood and the problems it led to.

In her book, Ewww! Lulu Meets the King of Poo through Emily Enzyme and a host of unforgettable characters; she leads a little girl on a journey of her digestive system in the book.

Scientifically accurate without being overly detailed, the book uses colourful illustrations and giggle-inducing rhymes to introduce audiences as young as 2-years-old to the existence of gut microbes and their vital role in our overall health.

She told That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, more about her latest release.

“Before I was 55-year-old, I had never heard of gut microbes.

I was astounded when I learned I had a universe inside me and that I could help myself with my food choices.

Health problems: Personal experience

The difference it made in my life. From the health problems I had, from the overuse of antibiotics as a child to feeling great and looking ten years younger, I wanted to share it with everyone.

What better way than a children’s book? Children would learn from it; their parents reading it to them would learn also.

I started reading everything I could about gut microbes and digestion, and I was totally mesmerized.

It took me about a year to write my first story. I had the full support of my husband, Frank, who encouraged me in all aspects of my passion to write and publish a children’s book on gut microbes.

Also, I luckily found two very talented helpers, Chris Ficken, a Graphic Arts instructor at Chico State, who I could not have done it without, and Steve Ferchaud, an enormously talented and imaginative illustrator.

Chris helped me with character design, basic layout, print style and size, editing word and phrase choices, and he was instrumental in putting it together.

Steve was always helpful, bending over backwards to draw close to how I imagined my story, and also very reasonable with his charges.

Publishing

Take a look at the books, and you can see their genius. I had no trouble finding a hybrid publisher to take my work: I paid part of the cost of publishing, and they were to do the rest- including introducing and marketing the book.

After a few hybrid publishing companies that did not work out well ( almost no book sales) and being the victim of a few scams, I bravely embarked on self-publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing with Amazon, as well as with IngramSparks.

That is where I now sell my stories. I used rhyming, great illustrations and colors, down-to-earth vocabulary and explanations, plus a glossary in back- all as scientifically correct as I could gather – and reading aloud to classrooms, I saw the enraptured expressions of all the children listening so intently and the many questions that came after every reading.

I hope to read to classrooms again as it gives me so much joy to see a whole classroom of young students totally engaged in my reading them my stories.

My favourite quote about my first book: “This delightful book is introducing children to a very important concept – the existence of gut flora and its importance in human health”.

Gut microbes

90% of all cells in our bodies are in our gut flora. The complexity of that microbial world inside us is just as magnificent as life on earth itself.

To a very large degree, microbes are in charge of our health and vitality. We must know about them and take good care of them.

My hope is that readers will understand the importance of the vital connection between what they eat and their health.

Summary of the books 

In Ewww! Lulu Meets the King of Poo, Lulu is feeling anxious about her upcoming school science report.

She has a tummy ache and falls asleep and dreams that she swallows herself! Emily Enzyme takes Lulu on an “incredible digestible” tour, first through the small intestine, where Lulu meets Abby Acidophilus and dances the Acidophilus Hula.

In the colon, Lulu meets Benny Bifidus, the King of Poo, who tells her, “Here we are – we all work together. If you take care of us – we’ll help you forever!”

My second book, Lulu How Do You? (How Do You What? Be Good to Your Gut!) is a graphic novel suitable for children 8-years-old and up that builds upon the concepts from the first book.

Lulu How Do You? follows Lulu on another adventure during which she asks the digestive organs and microbes about their favourite and least favourite foods — and why.

It is a lesson about the impacts that sugar and toxins can have on the body.

Entertaining and educational

With glossaries and pronunciation guides, both books are as educational as they are entertaining.

They aim to increase awareness from a young age about the importance of the gut microbiome and making healthy food choices.

I think readers of all ages and origins will enjoy these books, as the message is universal and timeless: their health, and precious, natural food.”

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