Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tiny Stitches

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas 
by Gwendolyn Hooks
illustrated by Colin Bootman
Lee & Low Books, 2016
Grades 3-8

Readers in search of an interesting biography should pick up a copy of Tiny Stitches. The informative picture book biography highlights the accomplishments of Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician and researcher who helped pioneer a procedure for performing open heart surgery on infants.

Gwendolyn Hooks takes readers through the major events of Thomas's life growing up in Tennessee during the Great Depression. Due to economic hardships after the stock market crash, Thomas was not able to afford to attend medical school. He took a job as a research assistant at Vanderbilt University with Dr. Alfred Blalock. The pair left Vanderbilt went to work at Johns Hopkins where they performed the first successful open heart surgeries on infants along with Dr Helen Taussig.

Bootman's realistic style watercolor illustrations bring a serious tone to the story. As Thomas and Dr. Taussig work to find a method for operating on babies, the author includes scientific details about the respiratory system that will satisfy curious readers. Middle grade readers will be surprised and saddened to learn that  Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig received credit for pioneering the surgical procedures on babies. Thomas was not publicly recognized for his work until twenty-six years after the first surgery.

Pair Tiny Stitches with Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy.

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Blood Brother- Blog Tour

Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights
by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
Calkins Creek, 2016
Grades 6-12

I am pleased to take part in the Blood Brother book tour today; the book hits shelves tomorrow!

Blood Brother is the important and little-known story of civil rights activist, Jonathan Daniels. The Wallaces learned about Daniels when they moved to his hometown of Keene, NH. The authors spent a great deal of time researching and "sleuthing" to piece together the details of Daniels' life.  They conducted interviews, read personal letters, located photographs taken by Daniels, and studied material from the Jonathan Daniels Collection at Keene State College. The result is a highly engaging and informative nonfiction narrative for teens.

Daniels was a seminary student in New England in 1965. Inspired by the work and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Daniels traveled to Alabama to join the fight for civil rights. Daniels was white and from the north, which made him a target for harassment by police and locals.  The authors show Daniels as a compassionate and brave individual who looked for the most effective ways he could make an impact in ending segregation. Daniels volunteered on voter registration drives, fought to integrate churches, and participated in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. One of the most impactful things Daniels did was to purchase a camera and photograph the violence he witnessed. He also took photos of contaminated water supplies and poor living conditions in some African American communities.

Young adult readers will be saddened to learn of Daniels' violent, shooting death upon being released from jail in Hayneville, Alabama. Despite eyewitness accounts of the shooting, the murderer was found not guilty by an all-white jury. A civil lawsuit following the trial later brought changes to the judicial system in Alabama.

The Wallaces weave together quotes, descriptions of events, powerful photographs and primary documents to paint a vivid picture of the people behind the civil rights movement. Be sure to read the back matter including the timeline, bibliography and authors' note. Pair Blood Brother with March: Book One, Turning Fifteen on the Road to Freedom, or Freedom Summer.

Don't miss the Blood Brother book trailer.

The reviewer received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher.