In the summer of 1952, Betsy sees her vacation fun overshadowed by the spreading polio epidemic, while her mother and other scientists work frantically to develop a vaccine for the crippling disease.
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Fifth-grader Betsy, whose mother works in Jonas Salk's research lab, has an on-again, off-again friendship with fascinating, mischievous Leticia, whose mother is so fearful of polio that she believes every wild speculation about how it might be spread--even that it may be carried by Communists. At the height of 1952's epidemic, Leticia is stricken despite her mother's precautions, but is gamely fighting for recovery at the close. Though cold war fears are skillfully worked into the polio story, a number of ends are left hanging: after Betsy and Leticia flood the newly poured foundation of a neighbor's bomb shelter to make a swimming pool (public pools are closed), there are never any repercussions; nor do we learn whether a brief, mysterious illness of Betsy's is actually a mild case of polio. And though fear of contagion is a major theme, Weaver omits any information on how polio is transmitted, or its symptoms and progression. Neither fictionally nor instructionally up to the ``Once Upon America'' series' usual standard. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-10) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 3-5-- In 1952, as Betsy completes fifth grade in a Pittsburgh school, the fear of polio is everywhere. When she connects with the much admired, spoiled Leticia, it looks as if her summer will be magical. However, their friendship is brought to a halt by Leticia's mother, who fears her daughter will catch polio from nearly any activity. Betsy and her brother are vaccinated at the Salk clinic, where their mother works, before the treatment is widely available. Leticia gets polio. The book is solid with historical texture; the very first chapter neatly ties the fear of the illness with McCarthyism and fear of foreigners. Unfortunately, the characters lack vitality. Although worthy, the plot and resolution are predictable and workmanlike, the conclusion didactic. Leticia declares that she will walk again; Betsy, gently fingering her vaccination, knows that Leticia will still be the same inside, and always be a fun friend. Select this title only if you have high demand for historical fiction. --Carolyn Noah, Cen tral Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Puffin, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140360832
Book Description Puffin, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140360832