Review of A Shot in the Arm!

A Shot in the Arm! [Big Ideas That Changed the World]
by Don Brown; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams   144 pp.    g
3/21    978-1-4197-5001-4    $13.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64700-090-5    $12.59

In this third installment of his Big Ideas That Changed the World comic-format series, Brown lays out the crucial steps in human history that led to the discovery and implementation of vaccinations as a solution to the spread of disease. Narrated by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a key figure in the popularization of smallpox inoculations in the eighteenth century, the book provides readers with a history of the smallpox disease that decimated multiple continents over the course of human history and the various early inoculation methods attempted across the globe prior to Edward Jenner’s discovery of a cowpox-derived vaccine. Brown then quickly moves on to Louis Pasteur and the new vaccinations resulting from his work, followed by Jonas Salk and his polio vaccine. Brown employs anthropomorphized cells and microorganisms for a section explaining the ways vaccines work to build our immune systems. A short section on COVID-19 concludes with a hope, “as of ­November 2020,” for an effective vaccine. Brown’s (The Unwanted, rev. 9/18; Fever Year, rev. 11/19) typical loose pen and watercolor illustrations, including single pages, double-page spreads, and varied panel layouts, make this well-researched ­volume — part history, part science — engagingly easy to read. A timeline, notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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