Elizabeth-Jade Beattie, a middle school student from Beverly, has two goals: she wants to become a dentist, and she wants to study at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.
Beattie has set her plan into motion and published a children’s book, “The Elephant Dentist,” to raise money for college.
Beattie’s book, which was published on Jan. 21, tells the story of an elephant named E.J. who wants to become a dentist. Amanda Beattie, Elizabeth-Jade’s mother, said that all of the funds made through book sales will go to Elizabeth-Jade’s “BU college fund.”
Upon realizing Elizabeth-Jane had such a passion for dentistry, Amanda began sending out emails to various dentistry organizations, including the BU School of Dental Medicine, sharing her daughter’s story and asking them to take part in her education during the summer.
Joseph Calabrese, the associate dean of students at SDM, read Amanda’s request and offered to give Elizabeth-Jade a tour of SDM, as well as have a one-on-one meeting to talk about dentistry.
“I had an amazing conversation with a 10-year-old, who was very knowledgeable, very articulate, very bright to have, even at 10, a pretty clear vision of what some of her goals and ambitions are,” Calabrese said. “She asked great questions about the profession and she asked great questions on the tour. She was very polite, very appreciative, it was a really delightful conversation.”
In the spring of 2018, after Elizabeth-Jade published her book through a self-publishing company BookBaby, she received a tour of SDM by Calabrese.
“He showed her all the different labs, rooms, and the molding, and talked about how they don’t just do pediatrics but there is a lot more in the field of dentistry than just one subcategory,” Amanda said.
Amanda said Elizabeth-Jane was “blown away” by SDM.
Elizabeth-Jade was so excited after the tour, Amanda added, that she not only made it her goal to enroll in SDM in the future, but also had an idea for a new book to educate readers on various dental instruments.
In the book, Amanda said, the elephant’s name ‘E.J.’ stands for Elizabeth-Jade, an “alter-ego” for her daughter. E.J. is unhappy working as a chef in her family business and instead has dreams of becoming a dentist.
“She wanted the elephant to have characteristics that she likes herself, it’s kind of her persona in the story,” Amanda said.
According to Amanda, Elizabeth-Jade has always loved teeth and fell in love with the idea of becoming a dentist at an early age.
“She’s always been interested in teeth,” Amanda said. “Even from when she was two, she was always inspecting all of our teeth, and then once she went to her first dentist appointment when she was like two-and-a-half or three with her first dentist appointment she fell in love with the instruments, and … the authority of the dentist.”
Amanda said her daughter’s book began to take form in third grade, when Elizabeth-Jade was doing research for class and learned that elephant teeth are significantly different from human’s. Instead of growing up from the gum, she explained, they grow forward and can contribute to elephant starvation deaths.
Elizabeth-Jade realized then that dentistry could be an important thing for elephants to have and decided to make it the subject of her book, Amanda said.
“She thinks [elephants] are really cool and unique and the zoos around our house— the Boston zoo and the Salem zoo in Massachusetts— both don’t have elephants so she always wants to see elephants,” Beattie said.
Amanda said the production of the book was a mother-daughter effort. Amanda, who has a background in art, drew the illustrations for “The Elephant Dentist” under instructions of author Elizabeth-Jade.
“She told me what she wanted to make seen how the characters were interacting, and she was very descriptive,” Amanda said. “She was the little art director.”