Vaccines explained for children in Prof Liston’s latest book

Vaccines explained for children in Prof Liston’s latest book

Vaccines explained for children in Prof Liston’s latest book

Key points:

  • ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’, the third children’s book by immunologist Prof. Adrian Liston and illustrated by artist Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez launches today.
  • The book sees Maya learn about the cells that make up our immune system and how vaccinations prepare these cells for battle.
  • The book is available to read for free online, or purchase as a physical copy.

Professor Adrian Liston, Senior Group Leader at the Babraham Institute, and artist Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez have published a captivating story book to teach children about the immune system and why vaccinations are important. As some children begin to receive the flu vaccine ahead of this winter and with pharmaceutical companies applying for approval of their COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12, ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’ can be used by adults to discuss key scientific concepts with them. The book is available on Issuu and today (18th October 2021).

The book is set in a doctor’s office just before Maya receives a vaccination. Maya learns that vaccines are made up of bits of microbes that your body practices fighting, just like Maya practiced for her race at school. The doctor explains to Maya that dendritic cells present B and T cells with the clues that allow them to defeat the real microbes, even if that is years later. 

The message in Prof. Liston’s book is two-fold, he explains: “After reading ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’ I hope that kids will understand what a vaccine is, and how the immune system practices. More important, though, is the underlying message of empathy. Vaccines protect you, but they also protect your loved ones and your community.” Protecting others is the focus of Prof. Liston’s first book ‘Battle Robots of the Blood’, about a boy with a compromised immune system. 

As an immunologist, Prof. Liston hopes his book sparks an appreciation for vaccines and work like his: “I'd love kids to learn just how cool the immune system is, and parents to be reminded that vaccines make us all safe. Vaccines have likely saved more lives than all other medical interventions combined, and yet they've come under targeted attack over the past decade, with deliberate misinformation campaigns. That means we need to be creating positive proactive stories, like Maya's Marvellous Medicine or Battle Robots of the Blood.”

Talking about her experience working on this series of books Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez commented: “I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing Maya to life and telling such an important story. Books like the ones we have made can be a powerful tool for teachers, educators, parents and carers who would like to have conversations with young children about vaccines without glossing over the science behind the jab.”

Prof. Liston added: “I always look forward to seeing the new styles of illustration Sonia brings to a project. I also love seeing my own son’s reaction to the final products. This book is dedicated to him for all the time we spent together in the lockdown.”

The book is currently available in English and Dutch.


About the author and illustrator
Prof Adrian Liston is a biomedical researcher at the Babraham Institute (Cambridge), specialising in the immunology and genetics of primary immune disorders.
Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez (Tenmei, @tenmeieditions) has worked as a biomedical scientist at the University of Cambridge, the Institut Pasteur and the Institut Curie (Paris). She currently helps researchers to communicate science to children with educational workshops and illustrations.

Publication reference:
Maya’s Marvellous Medicine is available to read for free online or to purchase as a physical copy on in English and in Dutch.

Press contact
Honor Pollard, Communications Officer,

Image description:
Cover illustration for Maya’s Marvellous Medicine by Dr Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez (Tenmei, @tenmeieditions)

Additional/related resources:
News, 27 March 2020 Children’s book ‘Battle Robots of the Blood’ launches
Battle Robots of the Blood
Prof. Liston’s second book: Just for KIDS! All about Coronavirus
Liston lab page

About the Babraham Institute
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.