by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek, 2015
Grades 5 and up
We received copies of the book from the publisher.
We are thrilled to take part in the Fatal Fever blog tour today! As part of the tour we will give away one copy of the book. (See below.)
In Fatal Fever, Gail Jarrow masterfully describes how Dr. George Soper tracked down Mary Mallon, a cook in the New York area, who had been unknowingly spreading typhoid fever to people around her. This exciting nonfiction text reads like a mystery as Soper and his team attempt to locate and contain the spread of the deadly disease at the turn of the 20th century.
Based on our criteria for high quality nonfiction, Gail Jarrow’s Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary is right up there at the top. This narrative nonfiction is well-organized, contains lots of historic photos that are well-captioned, and includes important back matter: author’s note, glossary of scientific words, bibliography of books & websites for further reading, source notes, index, and my favorite, a timeline. What really makes Jarrow’s book stand out is the writing. Jarrow, as she did in Red Madness, expertly weaves in historical details with scientific information to make this an exciting read.
I especially enjoyed the history behind many of the precautions we take for granted today that new discoveries in the early 1900, such as washing our hands before preparing foods and creating water purification standards to keep our drinking water from becoming contaminated with animal and human waste. I felt sorry for the woman that would become known throughout history as Typhoid Mary. Mostly, her inability to fully comprehend that though she was very healthy her body still contained high levels of the typhoid bacteria that caused many to become sick and even die.
I know several middle school students who will find Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary an exciting read.
I was captivated with the story of Dr. Soper and Mary Mallon from the opening paragraphs. Gail Jarrow hooks readers by starting the book with an exciting event. In the first chapter, Mallon is located by public health officials in 1907 who suspect she was a typhoid carrier, and she runs away and hides in closet.
"Mary shut the door behind her an crouched down. She didn't know it, but she wasn't alone in that cramped, cold closet. Deep inside her body, billions of deadly microorganisms were hiding, too" (p. 9).
Jarrow then provides readers with background information about typhoid fever, how it was spread, and its impact on communities, before bringing the story back to Mary Mallon, a carrier of the disease. The author's extensive research is evident in the detail and quotes used to tell the story. The numerous photographs and primary documents (a handwritten letter from Mary Mallon, health notices, and telegrams) help to paint the picture of the seriousness of the typhoid epidemic between 1900-1937.
History buffs and science-minded readers alike will enjoying learning how Dr. George Soper investigated typhoid outbreaks in different parts of the U.S. Fatal Fever would make an excellent text to read in middle school or high school classes and could provide topics for debate. Many connections to modern diseases such as Ebola could be made along with the idea of an individual's rights vs. public health and safety.
Fatal Fever Book Giveaway
One winner will receive a copy of Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary. (U.S. addresses only)
Complete the form below to enter.
One entry per person
You must be 13 years or older to enter.
Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 22nd.