Roopa Farooki on medical fiction for kids
Published on: 21 February 2020 Author: Roopa Farooki
Roopa Farooki is a junior doctor working for the NHS in London and Kent. She's also written six books for grown ups and her new children's book series, The Double Detectives, features twins Ali and Tulip solving medical mysteries. She told us what made her decide to write medical-themed fiction for children.
Why did I want to write medical themed books for kids? I'd already published six novels for adults, which always had a bit of a medical theme, because I was interested in medicine. The last one was called The Good Children, so my four (not so good) children asked me, "is it about us?"
Sorry, I said, the clue's in the name.
Haha, they said, can we read it?
Not really, I replied, sadly. It's not funny, and it's not really for kids.
You should write funny books, for kids, they said.
They outnumber me, so I thought I had better do what they say.
But what sort of book should I write? The answer came to me when I'd started training in medicine. I was always home late, as something dramatic or sad or funny had happened on the wards. I'd come home and tell my children about my mad days running though A&E in trainers, about my day in intensive care, or scrubbed into surgery to help take out an appendix. They became expert mini medics, and helped me practise for the clinical exams: they knew how to test everything, from brains to big toes. I thought how great it would be to get more kids interested in medicine, because it's like being a detective, adding up the clues until you find out what's going on.
So I knew exactly the books I wanted to write - a medical mystery series about super-smart kids who find the clues, cure the crime, and save the day!
If you're interested in medical books, it's good to start with Dr Ranj. He's written some fun and fact-filled books like Skelebones and Food Fuel. And he's a really dedicated doctor. I once worked a night shift with him in the A&E for Children at St George's Hospital.
My book is about twin medic girls, so to balance that, here are books by twin medic boys, Dr Xand and Dr Chris. The books are really funny, based on their Operation Ouch series, with themes like Your Brilliant Body and Crazy Cures.
There are two really good fiction books about the heart: Out of Heart by Irfan Master (I gave a little bit of advice to the author on the cover, as a big heart isn't a healthy heart, it's usually a sign of a serious condition!), and Pig Heart Boy, by Malorie Blackman.
And here's a wonderful book on leprosy, The Island at the End of Everything, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It's about a girl who is separated from her mother because of this misunderstood disease, and fights to find her way back to her.
For older children, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, about a teenage couple who learn to deal with both love and terrible illness, is wonderful.
And for ALL children, I love all the Funnybones books, by Allan Ahlberg! The drawings are fab, but just so you know, they aren't anatomically perfect, there are actually 206 bones in the adult body!
Author: Roopa Farooki
When Ali and Tulip's surgeon mum starts acting strangely, it's up to the Double Detectives to solve the mystery.