Parents' Guide to

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Compelling bio of African-American heart surgery innovator.

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This important bio of an African-American medical pioneer who developed open-heart surgery for babies celebrates his impressive accomplishments while being honest about the prejudice he faced. Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas spotlights the life of medical researcher Vivien Thomas, who dreamed of going to medical school but instead landed a job as a research technician at Vanderbilt University, then followed his mentor to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore where he developed a procedure for operating on infants with defective hearts. Though he wasn't credited publicly for many years and never got to perform the surgery himself, his groundbreaking contribution was eventually acknowledged.

Colin Bootman's vivid, realistic, artful illustrations give kids a feel for Thomas' era as well as the science. The text and afterword explain the medical condition and procedure clearly for the book's intended age group, and Thomas' story, inspiring and heartbreaking at once, provides a powerful model of a man who strove to do the work he excelled at despite serious obstacles.

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