From the Medical Breakthroughs series

Clotted with facts, it barely scratches the surface when it comes to immunological details or ethical issues.

Historical background for readers hazy on the whys and wherefores of vaccines.

Polinsky traces the development of vaccines from 16th-century reports of inoculation against the “speckled monster” of smallpox in what is described as merely “Asia” to the release in 2020 of vaccines for Covid-19. The narrative is dense, injected with names, dates, and scientific terms. Unfortunately, it’s already somewhat dated and turns notably skimpy when it comes to describing how the Covid-19 vaccines were developed. More disturbingly, although the author comes down hard on the author of a since-discredited 1998 claim that certain vaccines cause autism, she notes without justification or comment that Lady Montagu and even Jonas Salk tried out vaccines on their own children and that researchers mass-cultured the polio virus in “tissue from human embryos.” Figures, White or light-skinned, stand in static poses uttering wooden declamations (“Daniel Oliver, my boy, you have just received the first vaccine in American history!”). Ginevra cuts a few corners, pairing the writer’s blithe assurances about how safe the treatments are to multiple views of children being stuck, scratched, or bandaged. In one disquieting scene, we see polio victims in iron lungs as bodiless heads. Readers concerned about viral diseases and their treatment (who isn’t these days?) will come away somewhat better informed—but hardly soothed. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Clotted with facts, it barely scratches the surface when it comes to immunological details or ethical issues. (glossary, multimedia resource list, index) (Informational picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022

ISBN: 1-7284-4872-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021


The author of The Snake Scientist (not reviewed) takes the reader along on another adventure, this time to the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh to the Sundarbans Tiger Preserve in search of man-eating tigers. Beware, he cautions, “Your study subject might be trying to eat you!” The first-person narrative is full of helpful warnings: watch out for the estuarine crocodiles, “the most deadly crocodiles in the world” and the nine different kinds of dangerous sharks, and the poisonous sea snakes, more deadly than the cobra. Interspersed are stories of the people who live in and around the tiger preserve, information on the ecology of the mangrove swamp, myths and legends, and true life accounts of man-eating tigers. (Fortunately, these tigers don’t eat women or children.) The author is clearly on the side of the tigers as she states: “Even if you added up all the people that sick tigers were forced to eat, you wouldn’t get close to the number of tigers killed by people.” She introduces ideas as to why Sundarbans tigers eat so many people, including the theory, “When they attack people, perhaps they are trying to protect the land that they own. And maybe, as the ancient legend says, the tiger really is watching over the forest—for everyone’s benefit.” There are color photographs on every page, showing the landscape, people, and a variety of animals encountered, though glimpses of the tigers are fleeting. The author concludes with some statistics on tigers, information on organizations working to protect them, and a brief bibliography and index. The dramatic cover photo of the tiger will attract readers, and the lively prose will keep them engaged. An appealing science adventure. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-07704-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001


In this glossy photo essay, the author briefly recounts the study and exploration of the moon, beginning with Stonehenge and concluding with the 1998–99 unmanned probe, Lunar Prospector. Most of the dramatic photographs come from NASA and will introduce a new generation of space enthusiasts to the past missions of Project Mercury, Gemini, and most especially the moon missions, Apollo 1–17. There are plenty of photographs of various astronauts in space capsules, space suits, and walking on the moon. Sometimes photographs are superimposed one on another, making it difficult to read. For example, one photograph shows the command module Columbia as photographed from the lunar module and an insert shows the 15-layer space suit and gear Neil Armstrong would wear for moonwalking. That’s a lot to process on one page. Still, the awesome images of footprints on the moon, raising the American flag, and earthrise from the moon, cannot help but raise shivers. The author concludes with a timeline of exploration, Web sites, recommended books, and picture credits. For NASA memorabilia collectors, end papers show the Apollo space badges for missions 11–17. Useful for replacing aging space titles. (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57091-408-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

Close Quickview