Monday, August 26, 2013

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat:  History's Strangest Cures
by Carlyn Beccia
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2010
2014 Bluestem Nominee
Audience:  Grades 3 to 5
ISBN:  9780547225709
Publication Date:  October 25, 2010

Don't reach for a bandaid the next time you get a cut, reach for some spider webs instead.  And forget cough syrup, just wear a necklace of worms!  History is full of strange cures, some of which are still being researched today, and all of which are gross enough to hold any young readers attention.  Each ailment is presented as a quiz:  which of these wacky, disgusting cures actually worked?  This format allows for greater interaction with the book and will be perfect for classroom use.  The cures are terrible with plenty of historical information thrown in so readers understand why on earth someone thought it was a good idea to use leeches to cure disease.  These cures will have kids squirming and squealing for more!

I love engaging information books like I Feel Better for reader's choice award lists.  If I had my way, instead of preachy, message heavy fiction there would be more information books that pique a child's curiosity and lead to further reading.  This book in particular could take readers in many directions, to studying about the bubonic plague, ancient Greeks, Native American cultures, or the Civil War.  

This book would also be a great jumping off point for a class assignment as there are so many treatments mentioned.  Each child could be given a different treatment and be asked to research it a little further.  This would make a great topic for class posters, or fiction writing as readers could invent their own wacky cures.  They could pitch these cures to the class and the most believable and unbelievable cures could win a prize - maybe some "unicorn" horn!

As for the Bluestem, I do hope that I Feel Better performs well.  I think that librarians may need to book talk it, but I think telling one class will be enough to spread the word since this is the type of book that will be traded frequently among readers.  I'm seeing a top 10 finish with this one.

If you're feeling a little sluggish this Monday, just take two maggots and call me in the morning!

Happy Reading!

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