Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Nonfiction / 10 Days

Although young readers today might only associate the word “polio” with a vaccination, this well-written account gives them a hard look at the devastating physical and emotional effects of the disease.

In 1949, there were 42,000 cases reported in the U.S.; the author was the only one stricken in her hometown that year. She writes in an approachable, familiar way, and readers will be hooked from the first page on. The author details her diagnosis, treatment, frustration, and pain. Perhaps the most startling part of the book is her description of the sudden onset of the illness, coming with no warning and leaving her paralyzed.

Although this is an excellent record of the progress of the disease, it is also a fascinating account of how an ordinary girl had to live for part of her adolescence in an artificial, restricted environment. In the epilogue, Kehret describes her current battle with post-polio syndrome, and brings readers up to date on the lives of her fellow patients and friends at the Sheltering Arms Hospital. An honest and well-done book.

(Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, NY)