Kirkus Reviews QR Code
GERMS UP CLOSE by Sara Levine


by Sara Levine ; illustrated by Sara Levine

Pub Date: April 6th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-7284-3673-9
Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

A photo gallery of dangerous microbes, with basic guidelines for keeping them at bay.

Though the quality of the microphotography falls off when Levine gets to explaining the immune-system roles that various types of white blood cells play, overall the pictures are the stars of the show. Most are big, bright of hue, and so clear that even the smallest physical details of bugs from E. coli to coronavirus stand out in sharp, precise definition. “Who would have imagined,” writes Levine, “that they would be so interesting and beautiful to look at?” The author’s strenuous efforts to keep her commentary simple may leave readers confused about whether all germs are by definition “bad” or are often or in certain conditions harmless or even beneficial (and it doesn’t help that germ doesn’t rate an entry in the closing glossary). Still, her concise notes about where each type or species of common bacterium, protozoan, fungus, and virus she names is typically found, the maladies they cause, and how vaccines, hand-washing, wearing masks, and other preventive measures can lend our sophisticated immune systems a hand are as clear as they are timely. Other introductions to the microworld, such as Steve Mould’s The Bacteria Book (2018) and Amy Gallagher’s Microbes (2017), offer broader informational pictures, but their cartoon illustrations may, for some, make that world seem a little less real.

High-interest topic and eye-catching visuals—but a few rough spots keep it off the top shelf.

(bibliography, list of medical occupations) (Informational picture book. 7-9)