February 23, 2018

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Graphic Novels: The Wonderful World of Germs | September 2017 Xpress Reviews

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Koch, Falynn. Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield. illus. by Falynn Koch. 128p. (Science Comics). further reading. First Second. Aug. 2017. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626727526.

Gr 4-8 –With bold and colorful graphics, Koch tackles the complex world of germs and the human body’s incredible immune system, which is designed to combat them. In this title that’s reminiscent of the “Magic School Bus” series, scientist Elena uses a futuristic interactive technology that enables her to verbally communicate with viruses, bacteria, and leukocytes. Elena is able to simulate situations involving pathogens and the human body to explain to readers how the two interact as well as call forth various historically significant incidents involving disease (such as the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic of 1793). Readers learn about the different types of germs (protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and viruses), the role of vectors in the spread of disease, and how leukocytes (white blood cells) fight germs. Initially the narrative is somewhat confusing to follow. However, it soon becomes clear that Elena’s goal is to convince a yellow fever virus and a bubonic plague bacteria (both anthropomorphized) to join forces with scientists to create vaccines and potentially combat other deadly germs. VERDICT This useful introduction to the topic of disease and immunity is recommended for graphic novel enthusiasts or as a companion text in science classes.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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