Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

Katherine Krohn
Illustrator:  Bob Hall , Keith Williams , Charles Barnett III 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-1429601580

In the spring of 1918 war was raging in Europe and, as yet, no end was in sight. Soldiers in military bases all over the United States were in training, getting ready to do their part in the war. In Fort Riley in Kansas a young cook working in the kitchens started to feel unwell, and by the evening of March 11 he was taken to the army hospital. The doctors thought that he had a form of influenza, a form that developed very fast. Soon the army hospital was flooded with sick soldiers. Some of the men who contracted the flu in the morning were dead by the end of the day. Within a month one thousands one hundred soldiers fell ill.

   When the healthy soldiers from Fort Riley were shipped out, a few of them unknowingly took the virus with them to Europe. In France and Blegium soldiers were packed together with military men from other countries in the trenches, and the virus spread like wildfire. It also mutated to become stronger and more lethal. Soldiers started dropping like flies and the virus spread into the civilian population. It was carried on ships from ports in Europe to other ports around the world and the epidemic became a pandemic.

   American soldiers coming home from Europe brought the flu with them, infecting people in the port cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Not realizing how infectious this flu was, people in these cities marched in the street in support of the war. Packed together in the streets, the people infected one another and it was not long before the hospitals were packed with men, women, and children.  The hospital employees were completely overwhelmed by the numbers of patients, and scientists had no idea how to heal the sick or how to prevent the virus from spreading west.

   The flu pandemic of 1918-1919 affected people all over the world, killing as many as one hundred million people. We cannot be sure what the exact number of deaths was because not every death from the flu was recorded.

   The author and illustrators of this Graphic Library title give readers a richly illustrated account of what took place during the pandemic so that children can understand how the illness spread and how it affected the societies where it appeared.