Otterbein Father and Daughter Publish Children’s Book

Posted Jan 04, 2021

By Madelyn Nelson ’23

Father And Daughter Book Six Feet

When the pandemic hit last spring, many people baked bread, took walks, or watched movies to pass the time. John Newman ’77 and his daughter, Ellie Newman ’23, aren’t like other people — they published a children’s book while staying safe at home.

The product of their collaboration, “Baby Polar Bear and The Mean Germ,” is a children’s book that explains pandemic-related safety measures in a colorful, fun, and kid-friendly way.

“We tried to incorporate the information of the times along with things that little kids would like and that would stick with them. The situation and science dictated that we would include things like social distancing and hand washing, and then we kept revising,” John said.

John was the author and Ellie was the illustrator of the book, which is educational, entertaining, and making a difference. A portion of the proceeds from the book will go towards children’s medical research.

Ellie, a sophomore communication studies major with minors in journalism and media communication and dance, never expected to publish a book with her father. She recently was named the music director of Otterbein’s student-run radio station, WOBN, which has sparked an interest in a broadcasting career. “I really enjoy working with the radio and I’m starting to take some television courses. Ideally, I would like to be a news anchor on TV or radio. That’s the path I’m going down right now,” she said. 

Although her career aspirations seem unrelated to her book, Ellie thinks she learned skills that will help her succeed in her future career. “Having to communicate with the publisher, marketing the book so people know about it, and donating the money to medical research for children — there were many aspects that I had to learn that I will take with me in the future.” 

Ellie is a legacy student, following in her father’s footsteps by attending Otterbein. John looks back fondly on his time at Otterbein. 

“I have great memories of Otterbein. It gave me four wonderful years, I met lifelong friends, and I learned the skills and education I needed to take care of myself and my family all these years,” said John, who retired from a 35-year career in education and administration. 

Ellie’s college experience has been a bit different than her father’s.  

Father And Daughter Covid Virus

“This was a very different kind of year. I went from being on campus and doing activities, then when the pandemic hit, I decided to live at home and take online classes. All that stuff was taken away from me. It was sad and disheartening,” she said. “But I realize that there are other things that can occupy your time; you can find ways to make yourself happy and make a difference, even if it’s from your own home.”  

When asked about co-publishing another book, the father and daughter duo is open. “We’re not ruling it out; we’re a good team. It’s been a great experience. How many people have a book that they co-wrote with their daughter? It’s memorialized forever that we shared in this experience,” he said.

Baby Polar Bear and The Mean Germ is now available on Amazon.