Written by Mallory Wilson
Now more than ever with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it is imperative to teach children the importance of washing their hands. This isn’t always an easy task but Dr. Maggie Hymowitz, an ophthalmologist and a Port Washington mom to two elementary school-aged boys, and her father, Dr. Samuel Hymowitz, a retired periodontist and microbiologist, aim to help teach children about germs with their new book Operation Achoo!
The book, published in September, follows a young boy named Zach who is going about his day-to-day life when he unknowingly encounters a group of germs whose mission is to get him sick. Throughout the book, children learn about germs, staying clean and hand washing. Along with the creative and colorful illustrations, the book also features a hand washing song, written by Dr. Hymowitz herself, which makes the task more fun. The idea for this book can be credited to Dr. Maggie Hymowitz’s two young sons.
“When my boys were younger, they were constantly getting sick,” Maggie Hymowitz said. “Coughs, runny noses and fevers became somewhat of a new normal. I was determined to figure out a way to keep them healthy and prevent illness to themselves and others. I consider myself to be germ conscious, even before the COVID pandemic. I am very diligent about hand washing and overall health [and] hygiene. So I decided to create a children’s book to teach my children how to be germ conscious as well in a fun and engaging way.
Maggie attended weekly night classes to learn how to write a children’s book. In conjunction, she also collaborated with her father and utilized his knowledge of microbiology to help create the germ characters in the book and to make them fun and engaging for the young readers, while also being scientifically accurate.
“My father and I have always loved reading books to children and teaching the younger generation about good health hygiene,” Maggie said. “Throughout his professional career, my father visited elementary schools and local health organizations to teach about the importance of good dental health.”
The book itself took Maggie five months to write, but the revision process was quite long.
“The goal of the course I took was to learn the process behind how to write a children’s book and at the end of the class, students were expected to have a completed book to submit for publication,” Maggie said. As far as the illustrations go, they were a collaborative effort between Maggie and her father.
“The pictures, the characters, and the colors used are some of the most important aspects of the book to draw a child’s attention,” Dr. Samuel Hymowitz said.
“The creation of the illustrations was one of the most challenging parts of the book development process,” Maggie said. “I consulted my children for help throughout the process. I went straight to the audience for whom the book was being written to get some honest feedback. We are so excited by the reactions of parents and children to the book and we look forward to doing virtual and in-person readings (with strict COVID precautions) in the near future.”
The father-daughter duo hopes to write more books in the future and is already brainstorming ideas that combine their individual sub-specialties within medicine, ophthalmology and dentistry. Operation Achoo! is currently available in hardcover and paperback on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for $12-18. It will soon be available on Apple iTunes, Kindle and Google Play.
—Mallory Wilson is a contributing writer for Anton Media Group