Please welcome Lisa Mullan–UK scientist, teacher, and children’s book author of two exciting educational series about the science of DNA.
Q. Hi Lisa! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
A. Hello, Shana, and thanks for inviting me today. I have a PhD in biochemistry and have spent most of my career teaching–mostly Science, but also Math, English, and German.
I used to work on the Genome Campus in Cambridge, UK where they did–and are still doing–amazing research into the DNA of humans and other life forms.
Q. Sounds fascinating. So what sort of books do you write?
A. I write books about DNA for children. I’ve published the first two in a picture book series called the Dinky Amigos Adventures. These are for younger children (4+) and are written in rhyme. The Dinky Amigos are cartoon versions of the real DNA. Readers will learn to better comprehend some of the shapes and math of the science.
In November 2018 I also the published the first in my Genetics for Kids series. This is a true story told by your DNA. It describes what happens when someone inherits an illness called Cystic Fibrosis.
Q. Why do you write these books?
A. DNA and associated science is now crucial to our future and that of both medicine and engineering. Children will need to be proficient in this area for many of their career choices, so I decided to write about something I know well, in the hopes that if it interests me this much, I can make it matter to them as well. There is now simply too much information to be taught at senior school and I believe that some of it could be taught at the elementary level.
By combining the information with a strong story, genetics needn’t be scary or hard. Children can enjoy learning a subject which will open up a whole new avenue for them later in life. I feel strongly that no one should have their life choices limited because they might think they are “rubbish at science”.
Q. Can you tell us something about your work as an author that makes you proud?
A. It makes me very proud of my work every time anyone suddenly “gets it” after something I have written or explained. I want to demystify the subject of DNA and am delighted with every step in that direction.
I am also quite thrilled with a review for my latest book from Health Education England (Genomics Education). This is the education arm of the UK National Health Service and I received a personal message from them saying the whole education team loved it.
Q. That’s fantastic! What has been your biggest challenge in terms of authoring and publishing books?
A. Everything is a challenge! From working out the best way of putting the words on the page, to finding the right professionals, to marketing the finished result. (I went through three illustrators until I found the lovely Neil Chapman.)
If the maxim “no pain, no gain” is true, then writing has to be open heart surgery with no anesthetic!!
Q. Spoken like a true scientist–I love that! What are your plans for the future in terms of writing for kids?
A. I am currently halfway through my next book in the Genetics for Kids series–this time about the genetics of Sickle Cell Anemia. I have a further seven books planned for this series, eventually constituting a genetics primer.
I also have another three stories to complete my current Dinky Amigos Adventure series picture books and then (if I am still alive!) I can contemplate a new one. 😉
I would like to bring Genetics for Kids into every elementary educational establishment I can, and empower both privileged and (especially) underprivileged children to reach for their future science-based goals.
My DNA Diary: Cystic Fibrosis (Genetics for Kids)
Just what does your DNA think it’s playing at, causing a devastating disease, making you ill and then hoping that scientists can fix it? That is not a responsible way to run your body–or is it?
Genetics has never been so easy! Let Alina guide you through the basics of DNA and how it makes us who we are. Follow her as she discovers how a slight change to your DNA can have the most disastrous consequences. Learn the language of genes and chromosomes through a compelling narrative captured in both words and illustrations.
Cystic Fibrosis is inherited and causes serious breathing and digestive difficulties. This engaging and colorful explanation on the biology of this disease is a true story told from the point of view of your DNA. Simple to understand, it is packed with fascinating facts and insights into this condition, diagnosis and treatment.
Aimed at curious 9-12 year olds, adults can learn a lot too.
Praise for My DNA Diary–Cystic Fibrosis:
“Suitable for home or school, teachers and parents can be reassured that the science is correctly explained. The book enables those without a background in genetics to introduce the subject, and to learn themselves. And for children, the book does an excellent job of introducing genetics concepts and terminology in a fun way, potentially inspiring some of tomorrow’s scientists and clinicians to continue their learning journey.” – Health Education England (Genomics Education)
“Wow… what an amazing book raising awareness for people with the cf condition. This is a brilliant book for older children and young people to read about cystic fibrosis and it’s easy to read with wonderful illustrations which makes it easy to digest. I’d definitely recommend this book” – Review by the Mum of a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer
Q. Where can people keep up with you and buy your books?
A. Please check out the following links:
Amazon UK: Paperback
Q. Thanks for spending time with us today, Lisa. It’s great to see someone trying to help children understand such complicated concepts as the subjects of your books. But I also think it’s really important that we make science seem like a more accessible career option to a child, and I applaud you for doing that with your writing.
Readers, please follow Lisa Mullan and the Dinky Amigos on social media to keep up with Lisa’s future releases.
As always, thanks for reading!
Pinterest: Dinky Amigos
LinkedIn: Lisa Mullan
Instagram: Dinky Amigos
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks. And thanks, as always, for reading! ~Rosco’s Reading Room