June 20, 2024

Marina Gayed got the idea to write a book after job shadowing a dentist.

Most kids are reluctant to go to the dentist.

Marina Gayed was so impressed, she wrote a book.

The Coquitlam teen, who is in Grade 12 at Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, was doing a job shadow at a dental office when she was struck how often kids are told what not to eat and foods to avoid to achieve good oral health. But rarely are they advised what foods they should eat to ensure healthy teeth and gums and overall well-being.

“I was confused,” Gayed said. “I didn’t know about vitamins, minerals and nutrients and all that jazz.”

So she set out to educate herself.

Mining YouTube for videos about healthy, delicious eating habits, Gayed started dissecting her own family’s diet and introducing new ideas to her mom’s meal plans. She became more adventurous, exploring spices and cultural cuisines that were new to her yet addressed some of her own concerns about healthy eating.

Gayed said she’d always been a picky eater when she was younger, but her explorations opened new dietary horizons.

“I came to the realization I like a lot of these cuisines.”

In fact, Gayed said, she was so excited about the new things she was learning about food and it’s contribution to good oral health, she wanted to share her discoveries with others whose dental hygiene may not have progressed beyond brushing their teeth twice a day and flossing.

Gayed decided a children’s storybook would be the best medium to reach her intended audience.

Which embarked her on a whole other journey into the machinations of becoming a self-published author.

As Gayed pulled together her research and resource material, developed her main character — a curious girl named Camilla — and fictionalized her own culinary explorations, she also had to seek out an illustrator and editor as well as navigate legal issues like copyright and options for self-publishing platforms. And, she said, it all had to done to a tight deadline so the book would be ready for the Christmas shopping season.

The illustrator of “Camilla’s Culinary World Tour — A Nutritional Adventure” is an artist from Morocco, Jamil El Battari. 

His fluid, adaptable style seemed a perfect fit for the story she wanted to tell, said Gayed, who connected with him online. The editing process challenged her to simplify complicated terminology and concepts for an audience between seven and 11 years old while still respecting their curiosity and desire for knowledge.

“There was a lot of collaboration needed,” Gayed said. “It wasn’t just me working on this.”

Using a platform available through Amazon, the fruit of Gayed’s months of work was published on Nov. 20. She said seeing her book appear in the company’s online bookstore was enthralling.

“Finally, yay,” Gayed said, adding the dentists who were originally responsible for sparking her journey have seen the book and even contributed testimonials.

Gayed said her experience has also fuelled her resolve to take her passion for nutrition and oral health to the next level by targeting her post-secondary studies towards getting into dental school.

“When I cam up with the idea of the book, I thought oral health was all about brushing your teeth and flossing,” she said. “I wanted to come at it from a different direction.”

Camilla’s Culinary World Tour — A Nutritional Adventure is available on Amazon.


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