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GUINEA PIG SCIENTISTS

BOLD SELF-EXPERIMENTERS IN SCIENCE AND MEDICINE

This account of scientists who have used their own bodies and minds as subjects of experimentation forms a satisfyingly gruesome exploration of scientific dedication. George Fordyce explored the limits of the human ability to endure extreme heat and helped to explain why “it’s not the heat; it’s the humidity”; Daniel Carrión’s self-infection with the deadly verruga peruana resulted in his death and the renaming of the disease in his honor; Marie Curie’s experimentation with radium killed her but led to radiation therapy. Although these men and women, and several others introduced in this fascinating tome, were often viewed as crackpots, the text makes clear that it was their willingness to suffer that has led to many significant medical advances. The text is often sprightly and delivers just the right factoids to keep up flagging interest. Mordan’s clean inked portraits and details supplement archival illustrations; sidebars and chapter-ending “Now We Know” segments extend the information presented in the narrative. An introduction warns readers not to try these experiments on themselves; an author’s note informs readers of their methodology and approach to source material. Solid and fascinating. (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8050-7316-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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

From the They Did What? series

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

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. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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THE LOST GARDEN

A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many...

In a strong debut for the new "In My Own Words" series, the author of The Star Fisher (see below) portrays his own youth.

Brought up in San Francisco, where his parents managed for years to defend a mom-and-pop grocery against an increasingly rough non-Chinese neighborhood, Yep went to Chinatown to attend a Catholic school and to visit his grandmother. Always aware of belonging to several cultures, he is a keen observer who began early to "keep a file of family history" and who tellingly reveals how writing fiction, honestly pursued, can lead to new insights: in putting his own "mean" teacher into one book, he began for the first time to understand her viewpoint. He divides his account topically, rather than chronologically, with chapters on the store, Chinatown, family tradition, being an outsider, etc., concluding with his college years ("Culture Shock") and some later experiences especially related to his writing. Always, Yep is trying to integrate his many "pieces" ("raised in a black neighborhood...too American to fit into Chinatown and too Chinese to fit in elsewhere...the clumsy son of the athletic family..."), until he discovers that writing transforms him "from being a puzzle to a puzzle solver."

A detailed, absorbing picture of Chinese-American culture in the 50's and 60's, of particular interest to Yep's many admirers or would-be writers. (Autobiography. 11-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0688137016

Page Count: 117

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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