Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines

POISON cover

POISON: DEADLY DEEDS, PERILOUS PROFESSIONS, AND MURDEROUS MEDICINES
by Sarah Albee
Penguin Random House/September 05, 2017
Middle Grade (8-12), 192 pages

Here’s what the publisher says:

Science geeks and armchair detectives will soak up this non-lethal, humorous account of the role poisons have played in human history. Perfect for STEM enthusiasts! … Part history, part chemistry, part whodunit, Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines traces the role poisons have played in history from antiquity to the present and shines a ghoulish light on the deadly intersection of human nature . . . and Mother Nature.

Professional reviewers have weighed in favorably:

“[Albee’s] light tone makes this morbid, well-researched study a sinister indulgence.“—Booklist starred review

A compelling, entertaining, and informative introduction to a sinister aspect of human history.” Kirkus Reviews

“There’s plenty of material here to delight fans of [Georgia] Bragg’s popular How They Croaked.” —The Bulletin

Ideal for readers, including reluctant ones, who delight in the science and scare factor of poisons or grotesque medicine.” —School Library Journal

And here are my thoughts:

This book is deliciously dark fun! Sarah Albee’s POISON is the perfect mix of science, history, mystery, and entertainment, and readers of many different genres will be thoroughly engaged by this book. I know I was! From ancient times to today (and beyond!), Albee shows us how poisons–both natural and man-made–have affected humans lives and culture. The facts are shocking and fascinating, but broken down in a way that makes them accessible. There’s also a ton of humor to balance the heavy subject matter, with puns and sarcasm galore, especially in the titles and captions. And all of it is tied together with a compelling design featuring sidebars, pullouts, photos, and illustrations. There are also some serious nonfiction features, including a table of contents, author’s note, acknowledgements, notes, selected bibliography, research guide, index, and more. A highly recommended middle-grade nonfiction!

For more information and some interior views to give you a better sense of what you can expect, read my full review here.

And yes, if you’re wondering, this is perfect for Labor Day! One of my favorite features of the book was the “Nice Work if You Can Survive It” sidebars, which told of various professions throughout the ages where people were actually poisoned by their jobs (did you know mad hatters were mad because of the chemicals used for felting?). Sobering, to say the least. And it made me even more grateful for regulations that protect workers from unscrupulous business owners!

 

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Middle Grade Science: Plastic, Ahoy

At Wrapped in Foil today we are sharing Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman and with photographs by Annie Crawley. This middle grade book follows three graduate students who are part of team observing and sampling a giant patch of floating debris during a nearly three week ocean voyage in 2009.

Plastic, Ahoy!- Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It is a giant floating mass of plastic debris in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was discovered in 1997, and not much is known about it. One surprising finding from the book was that much of the plastic is broken down into tiny bits. It isn’t like the floating trash heap you might envision. Virtually every net sample the students took, however, had plastic in it. One has to wonder how all that debris is changing the marine ecosystem.

Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a compelling and relevant introduction to modern marine science. You will want to share it with children interested in marine biology, chemistry or conservation. It would make perfect reading for Earth Day (April 22, 2014) or World Ocean Day (June 8, 2014). It would also be a useful addition to a unit on the environment, particularly the marine ecosystem.

For the book trailer and ideas for accompanying activities, see a related post at Growing with Science blog.