Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Alexandra Bye
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Genre/Format: Nonfiction Biography/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: The definitive picture book biography of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the most crucial figures in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before he was Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci was a curious boy in Brooklyn, delivering prescriptions from his father’s pharmacy on his blue Schwinn bicycle. His father and immigrant grandfather taught Anthony to ask questions, consider all the data, and never give up—and Anthony’s ability to stay curious and to communicate with people would serve him his entire life.
This engaging narrative, which draws from interviews the author did with Dr. Fauci himself, follows Anthony from his Brooklyn beginnings through medical school and his challenging role working with seven US presidents to tackle some of the biggest public health challenges of the past fifty years, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensive backmatter rounds out Dr. Fauci’s story with a timeline, recommended reading, a full spread of facts about vaccines and how they work, and Dr. Fauci’s own tips for future scientists.
What I Think: Honestly, until the Covid pandemic hit I didn't know of Dr. Fauci. One of my friends is writing a book set in the 80's and 90's which centers the AIDS pandemic and she told me how influential he was. I love that we now have this book to share his work with young people.
Last week I shared my review of Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez and I talked about how the snatch of text is an opportunity to think of ideas or messages from families that are passed down. Guess what? That's exactly the same activity you can do with this picture book biography from Kate Messner and Alexandra Bye. If you didn't check out Kate's Teachers Write blog post from this week, be sure to read how she thinks about the subject of a nonfiction picture book biography and looks for stories from their childhood that led to their work as an adult. You can do some reflection for yourself. I absolutely loved it!
And then when I read Dr. Fauci, I had to pause when there is a page where his dad gives him advice that he applies to his life. It made me think of last week and the words of wisdom I heard from my family. Asking students to think of words of wisdom from the adults in their life would be a great way to start the year and get to to know each other. It would also work at any time during the school year as a way to share what values and beliefs they bring to the classroom community. I bet there are many ways we intersect that we might not realize.
To take this even further, invite students to write a scene where we get to see them practicing this or an adult reminding them of this idea. Or invite them to interview that adult who shared this with them and hear how it has showed up in their lives. I can imagine this turning into a piece with the message in hand-lettered font and the text to go with it. I LOVE the funky letting for this in the book. It stands out and it can't be missed. It would be cool to show that to students and see what they notice and ask why they think this bit of text is presented the way it is.
Snatch of Text:
"Anytime Anthony struggled with homework, his father reminded him that every problem has a solution.
'Don't get discouraged. Don't run away because you don't understand the problem. Think about it carefully and try to work it out.'
Anthony learned to start with wondering, then gather evidence and keep an open mind."