"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, February 19, 2024

MG/YA Nonfiction review: PLAGUE-BUSTERS

Plague-Busters: Medicine's Battles with History's Deadliest Diseases
by Lindsey Fitzharris and Adrian Teal
Bloomsbury Children's Books, New York. 2023. 
150 pages, illustrated.
Middle Grade Nonfiction Cybils Award finalist

Years ago I was a secondary health education specialist. These types of books about deadly plagues were right up my wheelhouse. Now that I've lived through another deadly plague, I appreciate this type of book even more. Honestly, I thought that  COVID would make the top five of deadly disease but these other gruesome disease had it beat: Black Death (Bubonic Plague); Smallpox; Rabies; Tuberculosis (TB); Cholera; and Scurvy. I would have thought that the flu, AIDS, and malaria would have made the list, at least. But I guess the authors had to stop somewhere. COVID was the most deadly communicable disease last year (and for the past several years) followed by TB, AIDS, and malaria. There I had something to add! The authors commented that they were writing this book as the COVID pandemic het, which was a surreal experience.
Smallpox! Rabies! Black Death! Throughout history humankind has been plagued by . . . well, by plagues. The symptoms of these diseases were gruesome-but the remedies were even worse.

Get to know the ickiest illnesses that have infected humans and affected civilizations through the ages. Each chapter explores the story of a disease, including the scary symptoms, kooky cures, and brilliant breakthroughs that it spawned. Medical historian and bestselling author Lindsey Fitzharris lays out the facts with her trademark wit, and Adrian Teal adds humor with cartoons and caricatures drawn in pitch black and blood red. Diseases covered in this book include bubonic plague, smallpox, rabies, tuberculosis, cholera, and scurvy.

Thanks to centuries of sickness and a host of history's most determined plague-busters, this riveting book features everything you've ever wanted to know about the world's deadliest diseases. (Publisher)

The aspect that I appreciate more today than I would have had it been published before the COVID pandemic, is how doctors and other people believed the kookiest treatments. We've all heard of blood-letting, and freezing TB patients nearly to death. But what about the urine treatment promoted for scurvy, or wearing red clothes to cure smallpox. Even when some doctor would discover the organism that caused the disease other doctors would mock him. "'Invisible creatures, killing our patients? Hogwash! Poppycock! BALDERDASH!' they cried (or something like -- we're guessing to be honest" (80). This reminded me of what happened during the COVID pandemic. Doctors and patients promoting unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin while eschewing vaccinations which had a proven history. Just yesterday I saw in the news that 17,000 people died needlessly from COVID because they tried hydroxychloroquine and when it didn't work, it was too late for them to get the vaccine.

I was grateful for the humor and the funny illustrations in the book and would definitely recommend this for all secondary school libraries and all public libraries which service teenagers.


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