|Tiny stitches : the life of medical pioneer Vivien Thomas|
Author: Hooks, Gwendolyn
Biography of Vivien Thomas, an African-American surgical technician who pioneered the procedure used to treat babies with a heart defect known as 'blue baby syndrome.'
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 5.90
Points: .5 Quiz: 183835
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 6.40
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 68909
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/16)
School Library Journal (05/01/16)
Booklist (+) (05/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (07/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2016 Gr 2–5—A picture book biography about the genius and research of Vivien Thomas, who pioneered open-heart surgery for infants, specifically to treat newborns afflicted with tetralogy of Fallot, or blue baby syndrome, a previously fatal condition. Trained as a carpenter and working alongside his father by age 13, Thomas dreamed of going to college. After losing his savings in the October 1929 stock market crash, Thomas accepted a job at Vanderbilt University as a research technician under Dr. Alfred Blalock. Expressive watercolor illustrations depict Thomas's dedication. He is shown practicing techniques, working in the lab, and researching in the library. The narrative covers many examples of the racism that Thomas faced, including less pay, housing discrimination, and the press's failure to acknowledge his development of what was later named the Blalock-Taussig shunt. By focusing on the enormous talent and skill of Thomas and depicting instances in which he was dismissed by white coworkers and by the media, the text is an insight into not only this innovator's life but the social and institutional conditions that allow for African American contributions in medicine and science to go largely unrecognized. Extensive author's notes provide more information about tetralogy of Fallot and about Thomas himself. - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/01/2016 *Starred Review* Vivien Thomas (1910–85) combined imagination, skilled dexterity, and hard-won medical knowledge to develop tools and techniques for successful open heart surgery on babies. His life and work are vivid in the pages of this picture book biography, in which Hooks details how his youthful work in fine carpentry, paired with his desire to become a doctor, propelled Thomas in his pursuit of his goals. In addition to the challenges facing any medical researcher, Thomas also endured such obstacles as the economic devastation of the Great Depression, unequal treatment as a black research assistant, the challenge of finding housing in the Jim Crow South, and the failure to be recognized for his monumental contributions to the field of neonatal heart surgery. It is the work Thomas achieved, however, in spite of these enormous challenges, that will pique reader interest as they learn about his design of tiny operating tools and his role guiding surgeons through neonatal operations. Bootman’s lifelike watercolor illustrations beautifully and vividly evoke the carpentry shop, research labs, and the auditorium where, years later, Thomas was finally honored for his work and appointed to the faculty at Johns Hopkins. Beyond the crucial message of perseverance and the spotlight on still-prevalent prejudiced attitudes, this middle-grade picture book illuminates the life of a lesser-known man whose innovations continue to be essential to modern medicine. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2016 The work of surgical assistant Vivien Thomas, who with Alfred Blalock and Helen Taussig pioneered the cardiac surgery for repairing the “blue baby” heart defect in children, was chronicled for older readers in Murphy’s Breakthrough! (BCCB 1/16), and now he’s receiving the picture-book biography treatment. The book traces his early skill at carpentry and his Depression-crushed dreams for medical school, then his work with Blalock at Vanderbilt University and their move together to Johns Hopkins, where they created the innovative surgery. The book serviceably covers Thomas’ remarkable career, with ongoing attention to how much racism the African American man faced in the mid-century South and how many demeaning forms it would take (Thomas was, for instance, long paid as a janitor rather than a research assistant at Vanderbilt). Unfortunately, the prose is often textbook-stodgy, and important details-like Thomas’ family, unmentioned until when Thomas and Blalock move to Johns Hopkins-are glossed over. Bootman’s watercolors are occasionally awkwardly or confusingly drafted, but they convey the intensity of Thomas’ approach and the reality of his existence within a sea of white faces. Thomas is a fascinating figure both as a pioneer and as an example of the importance of the technical side of medicine, and despite its flaws, this book gives young readers a look at both these contributions. Extensive notes include an explanation of the Tetralogy of Fallot that Thomas’ surgery repairs, additional information about the man, a brief glossary, and a list of sources. DS - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.