In his debut picture book, Rosenblum, a board-certified anesthesiologist, draws on the superheroic story tradition to make surgery less scary for kids.
Welwyn loves to pretend to be a superhero and defend his sister, Ava, and her toy bear, Teddy, from any villains who come their way. One day, in a rush to get to the ice cream truck, he falls down the stairs, accidentally ripping Teddy’s leg and apparently breaking his own in the process. According to the doctor, Welwyn needs surgery, during which the surgeon will “fix the leg, clean out the germs, and stitch his leg closed.” Welwyn is curious about germs: what do they look like? How do the doctors fight them? He goes in for surgery at a later date; although he’s hungry from not eating breakfast, he bravely meets the funny anesthesiologist and the operating team. He’s given “laughing juice” to prepare him for anesthesia, and under its effects, he thinks that the doctors’ scrubs look like ninja clothing. In the operating room, the doctors place four “stickers” on him to monitor his body; the one on his finger, he notes, glows as though he has superpowers. The anesthesia mask, meanwhile, makes him feel like a space pilot. As he drifts off, he remembers that Teddy’s leg is still ripped, and he wonders who will save the bear from the germs. Welwyn realizes that he must go on a mission to defeat the germs, and in his dreams, he and the cosmic–ninja doctors do so. The illustrations do a fantastic job of depicting Welwyn’s fantasy alongside the surgical procedure. In one part of the image, for example, readers see him as a superhero with superstrength, a glowing finger, and an armored foot; in another, he’s asleep, and the doctors are giving him a cast for his broken leg (while also improbably stitching up Teddy). The sleeping Welwyn looks absolutely peaceful, which should help assuage children’s fears about how they’ll feel during a procedure. Although the text is wordy, it handles the action just right, and the illustrations show nonthreatening but villainous germs with comic-book flair.
A children’s book for a niche audience that will make kids less worried about anesthesia—and may comfort their parents as well.