THE SECRET OF THE YELLOW DEATH

A TRUE STORY OF MEDICAL SLEUTHING

With plenty of gory details, Jurmain recounts the six months in 1900 when Dr. Walter Reed and his team of doctors in Cuba determined that mosquitoes carry yellow fever. Dangerous experiments helped them narrow their focus and eliminate other theories about the disease’s origin, but at the cost of the one young doctor’s death. Even reluctant readers will respond to the gruesome descriptions of the disease and of brave volunteers who wore blood-and-vomit–covered clothing in 100-degree heat to see if yellow fever could be passed on through cloth (it can’t). Quotations from the doctors’ letters and later accounts by other participants gives the story an immediacy heightened by conversational writing full of questions and cliffhangers. Almost every double-page spread features a black-and-white photograph of the players, their equipment or artifacts, with little photos of mosquitoes scattered throughout. Match this with Fever, 1793 (2000), by Laurie Halse Anderson, and An American Plague (2003), by Jim Murphy, both recommended as “Further Reading,” to complete this powerful exploration of a disease that killed 100,000 U.S. citizens in the 1800s. (appendix, glossary, endnotes, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-96581-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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ACCIDENTAL LILY

PLB 0-679-99138-7 Since moving to Philadelphia, six-year-old Lily Hill (Private Lily, 1998, etc.) has had almost nightly problems with bad dreams and bed-wetting. Embarrassed by these accidents, she doesn’t see how she can accept a friend’s invitation to a sleepover birthday party. Inventive and persistent, Lily devises a foolproof plan with her brother, Case’she will use a washable sleeping bag and pack an extra set of clothes. To her surprise, Lily also learns that bed-wetting is a common problem among her peers when another child’s problem is carelessly announced to the entire first grade. For those children facing a similar battle, Lily’s fear of exposure and plan of attack will ring true, making this the perfect read-aloud. Gutsy by nature, Lily is not going to let a small problem prevent her from attending her best friend’s birthday party. Brief and satisfying for the audience. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-89138-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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