Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Jonas Salk: Conquering Polio

Jonas Salk: Conquering Polio

Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
For ages 12 and up
Lerner, 2001   ISBN: 978-0822549642

It is hard in this day and age to imagine what it must have been like to live in a time before there was a vaccine for the disease polio. From the time when he was still a little boy Jonas Salk was able to see how the disease shattered the lives of children and their families. As he grew into a very talented and clever young doctor Jonas strongly believed that he had to work hard to find ways to protect people from contagious diseases. He began by helping to better understand the flu. He helped to categorize the various strains of the disease and to develop vaccines that would protect people from getting the illness that had killed so many people after WWI

Then Jonas began to work on trying to understand polio. He visited many hospitals where sick children fought hard to get better after contracting the disease. Seeing so many children suffer distressed Jonas greatly and it made him work all the harder to see if he could develop a vaccine against the disease.

After many long nights and many battles with people who did not think his research had merit, Jonas finally has a dead virus vaccine which protected children from the deadly illness. Suddenly, Jonas Salk was a hero and it was a role he was not happy to play. Still, he had to accept that people wanted to hear him speak and to see him, so he did he best to accept the attention with good grace though he did not like having to give up his valuable work time.

Readers of this biography will be fascinated to learn how Jonas Salk created his famous vaccine and they will also discover that Jonas had to face many problems before his work was finally accepted by everybody. The author explains the science behind Jonas’ work in a simple and interesting way making it possible for the reader to see how different Jonas’ approach was. Because of his work the whole world of medical research changed – all because Jonas was not willing to follow old fashioned methods when newer ones worked better.