A Gosport teacher who travelled to Moscow to receive pioneering treatment for multiple sclerosis has finished writing a children’s book - ‘The Curse of the Maya’.
As reported in The News, Jonathan Pearce went to Russia’s capital to receive stem cell treatment which he hopes will reduce the effects of the debilitating condition.
Part of the treatment at Pirogov Hospital involved chemotherapy sessions which weakened Jonathan’s immune system and resulted in him having to spend time in isolation.
Jonathan said: ‘I came up with the idea to write a children’s book before I was diagnosed with MS in August. The book has helped to give me a focus during my time off work and I have been able to use this period to really get into my writing. I used my time in Moscow, particularly when I was in isolation for 10 days, to put the finishing touches to the story and to edit each chapter. Ideally the book would have been finished before now but during the first six months my cognitive ability was not great due to MS.’
The book tells the tale of the adventures of twins Verity and Ethan who travel to Guatemala with their father, an archeologist carrying out an investigative dig at an ancient Maya city. During the excavation a pyramid is discovered along with a mask which is believed to be cursed and may have been responsible for bringing to an end Maya civilisation.
‘After the mask is discovered the children’s father is kidnapped and Verity and Ethan become separated. The rest of the story follows the adventures of the twins as they look to rescue their father and solve the mystery as to why the Maya civilisation came to an end,’ explained Jonathan.
Jonathan and co-writer Andy Loneragan, also a teacher, decided to write the book after changes to the curriculum.
Jonathan said: ‘The Department for Education changed the history curriculum by replacing the Aztecs with the Maya. There were few resources available and we decided to write our own book as a way of introducing the Maya culture and inspiring the children’s interest. As teachers we know what children like to read and what makes a book exciting. We cover lots of children’s books in class and we took the best ideas of different authors and applied them to this book.’
Having tried out the story on a sample of children, Jonathan hopes the book will be taken on by his own school, Bedenham Primary, as well as other schools in the area.
‘We gave the book to three sisters at Peel Common Junior School where I used to teach and they loved the story,’ he said.
One of those sisters, Libby Pellatt, commented: ‘It was a fantastic read,’ whilst younger sibling, Ginny Pellatt, 12, added: ‘It was gripping and exciting and I really enjoyed it.’
Jonathan will be delivering a presentation to the English lead teachers in Gosport and Fareham and he is hopefully they will take up the book as part of their curriculum.
After returning from Russia in April, Jonathan is confident that the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Treatment has been a success.
Jonathan said: ‘I suffer from the rarest type of Primary Progressive MS and without this treatment I would just get worse. I certainly feel like my co-ordination and physical ability has improved - friends and family are certainly saying I am walking better. In the next year I hope to return to teaching and to see the book really take off.’
The book is on Amazon for £6.99.