A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Explanation of medical condition "tetralogy of Fallot" and surgical procedure to treat it. Biology of shock and low blood pressure. Medical vocabulary: "suture," "cardiology," "shunt," "artery," "incision," "spirometer," and "blood-gas manometer." Job category of research technician. Examples of segregation.
Pursue the work you love even if there are serious obstacles. You can excel at your work even if others discourage or disparage you.
Positive Role Models
Vivien Thomas succeeded as a medical pioneer despite all odds. He never went to medical school or college. He was hired as a research technician but listed and paid as "janitor." He wasn't allowed to perform the surgery he invented, and his work wasn't credited for many years. Still, he pursued the work he loved and developed groundbreaking medical procedures.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas is a picture book biography of an African-American man who pioneered open-heart surgery for infants but had to wait years to receive recognition. It explains the heart condition "tetralogy of Fallot" and the medical procedure Thomas developed to address it. It also sets his work in its social context, describing disturbing instances of racial prejudice faced by Thomas in the first half of the 20th century. Expect complex subject matter and longer blocks of text than most picture books. This is a strong and informative bio of an impressive role model for kids dreaming of a career in research or medicine and a great choice for families looking for STEM books.
Is It Any Good?
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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