Tag Archives: nonfiction

Book Review: Cosmic Catastrophes

Cosmic Catastrophes: Seven Ways to Destroy a Planet Like Earth by David A. Aguilar

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Published by Viking and Smithsonian in 2016.

“Our ‘Pale Blue Dot,’ as the legendary planetary scientist Carl Sagan used to call Earth, is small but mighty. There may be obstacles ahead, but our planet has survived big messes before, and this…orb..has shown resilience and awesome staying power.” -pg 73

Aguilar provides a fun to read book about different ways our planet could cease to exist. Many other books that face this topic test to read like a conspiracy theory or sound far fetched, but this book provides readers with a healthy balance of exploring the potential of disaster in a researched, balanced, and calm tone. The author has fun with exploring likely catastrophes but keeps the likelihood of these events happening in perspective.

From the well known idea of asteroid strike to alien invasion to black holes and supernovas, this book provides a variety of known and less well known potential disasters. Aguilar bases his research in history, archaeology, and science to help make his case. Kids and teens will love this book!

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

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Book Review: Fatal Fever

Fatal Fever by Gail Jarrow

fatal-fever

Published by Calkins Creek in 2015.

While Terrible Typoid Mary focuses on Mary Mallon, Fatal Fever focuses on typhoid disease at the turn of the century. With bright, colorful pictures, this book will keep readers interested.

This book focuses on the dangers of typhoid, how it is spread, and  healthy carriers, with a focus on Mary Mallon.Dr. George Soper and Dr. Josephine Baker are well represented in why they targetted Mary, but Mary’s perspecitve is lacking.

With a great list of resources and references, this book is a great example of good research with a focus on the CDC and primary sources. Even with being a non fiction book, the book presents the infomation in a way that is simple, and entertaining.

 

Book Review: Terrible Typhoid Mary

Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

typhoid mary

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2015

This is the disturbing story of a woman who was a carrier of the typoid virus and an overzealous health official who saw her as a menace to public health. Mary Mallon was a cook who worked in a variety of homes and institutions. There were 24 cases of typhoid associated with her various places of work.

George Soper, a health official is clued into the cases surrounding Mary and begins working the the NYC Board of Health to convince her that she is a carrier of the disease. She is not trusting of any health officials. Eventually, she is detained against her will. Her story and identity is leaked to the press. Her reputation is ruined and the press keeps digging to learn more about “typhoid Mary.” Eventually she is released, promising to never work in a kitchen again. She struggles to find employment and 5 years later she works in a kitchen in a maternity hospital under a fake name. A typhoid outbreak occurs and she is imprisoned again.

Bartoletti does a good job trying to allow the reader to understand both Mary’s perspective and the health officials perspective. She tries to make sure that she’s telling the story in an honest way. It’s very easy to cast the health officials as the villians when they violate Mary’s civil rights, it’s also easy to blame Mary for not providing fecal samples and taking measures to protect public health. She tries to explain everyone’s motivation, citing primary source documents in a way that remains objective.

Quotes:

“If you’re squeamish and don’t like to read about germs, then you should stop now and find some other book to read.” (pg. 1)

“According to soical research, a person’s trust level is set by his or her mid-twenties.” (pg 55)

“Many Americans believed that the government had a responsibility to protect them from infections diseases such as typhoid-even if it meant that individuals such as Mary Mallon lost their freedom.” (pg. 90)

“She told a New York World  reporter that there were ‘two kinds of justice in America’ and that ‘she had not been given the benefit of the reasonable doubt which is allowed even to murderers.” (pg. 117)

“There’s a danger in writing a person’s life from a historical vantage point, for hindsight can be smug.” (pg. 153)

Book Review: The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Safstrom

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Published by Ten Speed Press in 2016.

Fans of random facts, rejoice! This delightful book provides cute, quirky drawings of various animals. Each drawing is accompanied by one or two facts about that animal.

With this book, the author mentions “I hope you…learn something new and be reminded of the fascinating beauty of the animal world.”

Great for reluctant readers and would made a great coffee table book for your friends who love trivia.

 

Note: This book does reference mating once, and uses the word harem once.

 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I recieved this ARC from the publisher. I recieved no monetary compensation for this review.