Mar 02 2010
From the moment I embraced the skill of talking I became a teacher. My first pupils were ideal. Because they were dolls, they didn’t fidget or squirm, chew gum, throw spitballs or talk back. Occasionally one fell off a chair but I didn’t send them to the nurse I just replaced them on the chair and kept teaching. In grade school, Grade Three, I became a tutor teaching boys to learn to read. In high school I tutored again teaching grammar. Eventually I became a real teacher with my degree in education, but then family came along, so I taught my own. And finally I found writing to be a perfect vehicle for teaching children one of the hardest subjects (and one I hated in school) – History! Thus the Alexander Catts’ I and II came into being. They and their ‘meowmoirs’ help me show children “what it was like when” and the most famous people were just human beings who dealt with life like we do. Alex (Alexander Catt I) met Ramses, Leonardo da Vinci, Columbus, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sam Steele, Queen Victoria, Eisenhower and Emily Carr, to name a few. So far Lexi (Alexander Catt II) has met Ramses, Hippocrates and now Sir J. Lister. The goal is to make some of the highlights of the history of medicine not only understandable but interesting and hopefully entertaining. The challenge is to make the gruesome palatable because the subject matter is often gross and we don’t want children to cry, or worse, throw up or develop fears about going to the doctor. Even the study of health in Grade Four did that to me as a child and I write at the Grade Four level so I understand. Looking back at the nineteenth century the chances of surviving childbirth, a broken leg, or simple operations were slim. Lister changed that by keeping his head and persevering against popular opinion by providing proof. He was a cool hero. And my job is to depict all that – Fun!