Fever: How Tu Youyou Adapted Traditional Chinese Medicine to Find a Cure for Malaria

Mims House. Mar. 2022. 34p. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781629441955.
K-Gr 3–A succinct but informative book about Tu Youyou, the Chinese medical researcher who won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of the treatment for drug-resistant malaria using extracts from sweet wormwood. Without shying away from the severity of the situation, Pattison introduces information about the parasite. She then jumps into the story of Youyou who, along with a team of researchers in the 1960s, was tasked with discovering a cure. (In the back matter, readers learn that this was at the behest of the government of North Vietnam.) Tu used ancient texts of traditional Chinese medicine to inform her research, persevering through years of failures in a true demonstration of the scientific method. Following the discovery, the book wraps up rather quickly, followed by ample back matter about Tu, the malaria-causing parasite, and a time line of malaria research. The illustrations are highly stylized, with characters rendered childlike with dots for eyes, rosy cheeks, and wide crescents for smiles. It’s an entertaining approach, and science looks fun, but it somewhat detracts from the serious nature of the topic, and results in the erasure of many of Tu’s features, including that she is Chinese (this is true of all the Asians in the book). Still, the digital collages featuring paint on old book pages create texture and dimension, seemingly simple but layered with warm browns and lush nature scenes.
VERDICT Visual questions aside, this book tells an important story in the history of medical research, and is recommended as an addition to STEAM collections.

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