Despite lacunae, a gripping look at a major medical breakthrough.

BREAKTHROUGH!

HOW THREE PEOPLE SAVED "BLUE BABIES" AND CHANGED MEDICINE FOREVER

In 1944, Dr. Alfred Blalock joined pediatrician Dr. Helen Taussig and research assistant Vivien Thomas to develop the first surgical procedure to treat a severe heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, or more commonly “blue baby syndrome.”

The success of this groundbreaking procedure ushered in the concept that hearts could be surgically repaired. Thomas, a brilliant, highly skillful African-American who was unable to afford college, did much of the work to design and perfect the procedure. Murphy provides background on all three of those involved but focuses on Thomas and Blalock, their unusual professional relationship in the context of an era of extreme racial prejudice, and the failure to credit Thomas with his achievements. Controversial animal experimentation was a major component of the research, a topic covered in some detail. Although the cardiac defect is simply explained, there are no diagrams to enhance understanding of it. The first attempt at the procedure resulted in immediate improvement in the dying baby’s condition. Oddly, however, the final result for her is revealed only in the detailed endnotes. While the surgical procedure soon became available as a treatment option, no information is provided on how surgically treated patients fared, long term—even though a full page focuses on the outcome for a canine subject.

Despite lacunae, a gripping look at a major medical breakthrough. (source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-547-82183-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A biography worthy of the larger-than-life Virginia Hamilton

VIRGINIA HAMILTON

AMERICA’S STORYTELLER

From the Biographies for Young Readers series

If the children you know think biographies are boring, this one will make them reconsider.

The tapestry of words Rubini weaves together brilliantly portrays the amazing, quirky, shy, frog-loving woman and extraordinary writer who was Virginia Hamilton. Since Hamilton constantly dipped into the well of her own family history for book details, Rubini wisely begins several generations back, with Hamilton’s enslaved great-grandmother Mary Cloud, who smuggled her son from Virginia to Ohio and delivered him to free relatives then disappeared. Descended from a long line of storytellers and “plain out-and-out liars,” Hamilton relied heavily on what she called Rememory, “an exquisitely textured recollection, real or imagined, which is otherwise indescribable.” Rubini traces Hamilton’s evolution from aspiring writer to becoming “the most honored author of children’s literature.” Hamilton received award after award and in 1975 became the first African-American winner of the coveted Newbery Medal. (To date, only three other African-Americans have won the Newbery.) Rubini’s biography entertains and informs in equal measure, and because she writes short paragraphs and highlights challenging words, young readers will find this a quick, accessible, and memorable read. Photographs and book covers punctuate the chapters, as do useful explanations of Hamilton’s historical context and impact. Rich backmatter will also make this a useful classroom text.

A biography worthy of the larger-than-life Virginia Hamilton . (Biography. 10-16)

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8214-2268-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

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