Could This Be The First Ever Osteopathic Children’s Book?
We at Ozteo are pleased to interview Tom Johnson, an Osteopath from Wales, who has written the first ever children’s book about osteopathy! We ask Tom what inspired him to write it, what the story is about and any plans for a sequel...
Hi Tom, tell us about yourself!
My name is Tom Johnson. I am an Osteopath practicing in Hereford in the UK. Like many of us I found my way to the profession a wee bit later in life. A stubborn ankle injury sustained in a mosh pit led me to an Osteopath when I was 20. I hobbled into the practice as a skeptic and walked out a convert. A few years later, somewhere between beach parties, sunsets and awesome waves it dawned on me that having purpose in your life really is quite something. So, I changed course and studied Osteopathy at Swansea University in the UK. I also met my wife there and we have a two-year-old son now. My passion for Osteopathy and my dissertation on psychological aspects of chronic pain are what drove me to write “A Dragon’s Tale”.
What’s your book about?
It is about a knight who gets injured trying to slay a dragon. An Osteopath helps the knight get back in the saddle and shows him how to slay a dragon, too.
Two themes I really wanted to cover were the need for empathy and humility when you are dealing with people in pain. The absolute certainty with which some Osteopaths (or other practitioners) blurt out their diagnoses and "solutions" is counterproductive to our profession and the patient encounter. I feel we as a profession need to take ourselves less and our patients' emotional or psychological needs more seriously.
What triggered the idea for the story?
Ironically, for something as niche as my book, the idea came after a business lecture at Swansea University. I thought I was going to get rich there for a second!
A few of us were standing around after the lecture whingeing about the fact that many people are still not aware of our profession. We were frustrated that there are many more osteopaths in the UK than chiropractors, yet when we got asked what we studied, the quickest or most effective way of explaining was often to say that it was "similar to Chiropractic." Somebody then said: "Well, the Chiros even have children's books about Chiropractic." I was surprised to learn there wasn't anything like it for Osteopathy and said "I'll f***ing write one myself then." I thought it would be a piece of cake to write as it was “only” a children’s story. After writing one myself and reading lots of books to my son I am a bit more cautious about that. Some stories are so clever and meaningful that it is hard to believe.
How long and what steps did you have take to get your book published?
The whole process has taken me about four years. The day after that lecture I went to the local library and took out as many children’s books as I could and went to work. The first drafts were horrible. I pity the friends and family that took the time to read them. The story then gradually became more refined and eventually I told one or two lecturers about my project. Thankfully they saw the potential, gave some valuable feedback and I kept improving the text.
The images are my dad's creation. He got really into his art after breaking his back in a road accident in 2012. He changed a lot after the accident, and I think that mindfulness meditation and art really helped him.
The book grew from there to a Kickstarter campaign in 2017. It was extremely short in order to potentially ship the books in time for Christmas. In retrospect that was a poor decision. The project generated a lot of interest but not enough to get funded in such a short time.
Then two things happened. My dad ordered 50 copies from a printer in Germany to test the waters. I made a Facebook ad asking for feedback which generated a lot of interest. Some replies were ecstatic and very encouraging, others made suggestions for improvements. I took on board that feedback and refined the story again. The other thing that happened after the Kickstarter campaign was that a German publisher called Noema Verlag bought the story and translated it under the name "Ritter Rolin und der Drache". With their help my book got reviewed in an Osteopathy Journal, too.
Inspired by that German translation and fueled by my continuously evolving understanding of Osteopathy and pain management I made several important improvements again. The book is now easier to read for younger children and more modern regarding its depiction of treatment and adjunct advice. I have gone away from only hands-on treatment to a combination of that and reassurance, goal setting and pushing for an increase in physical activity.
What is your ultimate aim of your book?
I hope I have written something useful to educate patients about pain and to promote Osteopathy. To my knowledge we as a profession still lack the simplest of stories with an Osteopathic hero (in the literary sense). At least that was the case when I started (this may have changed). Go to the kids’ section at your local library and look for treatment related books. I am sure there will be some book about a kid with toothache whose pain is gone after seeing the dentist. Or a child with an earache receiving pills from the doctor. To my knowledge there is nothing basic to tell a kid from an early age about Osteopathy or pain. I think writing something for children like that could be extremely helpful for spreading the word about our profession.
I hope readers will agree my book has as much depth as you want it to have. You can read it as a simple story about a dragon and a knight. You can also read it as a story about back pain, self-care and recovery. Friendship, collaboration and humility are also themes I weaved in. Or, if you wanted to approach it from a psychoanalytical angle you could see it as a story about embracing the 'feminine' perhaps.
So, the ultimate aim is to entertain while getting some important messages across about back pain, self-care, and Osteopathy.
How can Osteopaths everywhere get hold of a copy?
The book is available online as an eBook in pdf and kindle format. You can have it in an instant, no matter where you are in the world. I will consider making print copies available, too, if there is enough interest.
The beauty of physical copies would be that a practice could buy two copies, one for the waiting room and one as a donation for the local library with their practice stamp in it. It would help get the message out and serve as advertising, too.
For more information and to buy please go to
Until January you can pay any amount you like. If you are broke and/or highly skeptical then download it for free. I will take a decent review and recommending a download to your paying friends as payment, too. If you love the idea of the book, then feel free to treat my dad and me to a pint or two…or three.
What people are saying
Sorry I really didn’t like it, We loooooooooved it!!!!! I passed it on all around me already, read it to the children of course and passed it around the clinic and about to take it to the teacher of my reception and year 2 boy to read it in class and explain a little about Osteopathy... - Osteopath Gersende Langlume
The book deserves a 5 star rating, well done, it is good to see the pain experience and or approach to it being explained in a kid friendly way. - Osteopath Jackie Gowland
It [A Dragon’s Tale] is a wakeup call for humanity, for the peaceful co-existence of all creatures; seeing your fellow man, helping him when needed, selflessly. (translated from German) - Dr med. Sabine Stiete in Osteopathische Medizin.