Monday, November 11, 2013

MMG Nonfiction Monday-- Medical Experimentation

I love it when I pick up two books that are seemingly unrelated and read them in quick sucession, only to find out that they go together extremely well. Without giving away too much about Kate Messner's Wake Up Missing, know that these two books make for an excellent pairing on the topic of medical ethics!

17324649Wittenstein, Vicki Oransky. For the Good of Mankind.
October 1st 2013, Twenty-First Century Books (Lerner)
Copy Provided by Blue Slip Media

Starting with an explanation of the Hypocratic Oath and the early experimentation of Edward Jenner with smallpox vaccination, this book followers the history of horrific medical trials up to the present day. It includes chapters on Nazi experimentation as well as the other experiments done while nations were at war, and gives unglaring details about the effects of these experiments on the subjects, who were usually very young, poor, or mentally disabled. Luckily, the book does cover the outcry about these experiments and discusses the 1981 adoption of the Common Rule medical practices that clearly delineate how researches should proceed in ways that safe guard human health. Of course, even when these things are supposedly followed, there are still tragedies, and several recent cases of these are covered as well. This is fairly gruesome in spots, so I don't think it would work in an elementary library.
Strengths: This is a fairly readable nonfiction book, but its strengths would really be to use it in a classroom setting. I liked that there were discussion questions for the chapters at the end, as well as downloadable resources available at The book is well-illustrated and proceeds in a logical fashion.
Weaknesses: While the writing made this one feel like a quality, individual nonfiction title, something about the formatting of the book made it feel like more of a series book written to spec. I liked the look and feel of The Secret of the Yellow Death a bit more.

VICKI ORANSKY WITTENSTEIN has always been curious about new ideas, people, and places. That curiosity has taken her life in many different directions.  So far, she has been a student, a criminal prosecutor, a writer, and an advocate for children and families.  She is the author of a number of science and history articles for young readers, as well as the book Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths, which won the 2013 Science Communication Award from the American Institute of Physics.  She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, and for a free discussion guide, visit

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Mon, Nov 4
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The Prosen People
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The Fourth Musketeer

17286690 Messner, Kate. Wake Up Missing
September 10th 2013, Walker Childrens

Cat suffered a concussion falling out of a tree and has had to deal with the lingering effects. When the opportunity arises for her to pursue aggressive treatment at the I-CAN (International Center for Advanced Neurology) facility in Florida, she goes, even though she will miss her parents.She meets the other kids who are there-- Quentin, who was injured playing football; Sarah, a hockey player; and Ben, who fell off a horse. There are also other kids who are farther along in their treatment, but there is something that seems odd about them. Kaylee and Trent have already had the gene therapy portion of the treatment, but their personalities seem to have changed. Even though Cat feels some improvement in her headaches after just a couple of days, she finds out information that makes her think that the doctors at the lab don't have the best interest of the kids at heart. The four feel they need to escape, and this plunges them into mad chases through the swamp. Concussions are the least of their worries at this point-- escaping the mad men who were supposed to help them and surviving become the main priority.
Strengths: Hate to say too much about the plot and spoil this one. Like the Capture the Flag series or Eye of the Storm, this has a nice ensemble cast. I appreciate how Messner must have set out to make a book that would appeal to both boys and girls. Lots of action and adventure and heart-pounding chases.
Weaknesses: Two deaths make this iffy for elementary students. While I think this will circulate well, I somehow didn't buy the premise of the scientists experimenting on children. Messner does a great job writing suspense, but I still like her more realistic books better. (The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Sigh.)

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Wrapped in Foil.


  1. Hi there Miss Yingling. It does sound like these two novels go well together and would make for a good text-set. Haven't read any of Kate Messner's novels as yet. For the Good of Mankind sounds like a riveting read reminding us of the not-so-distant past filled with unspeakable atrocities. Thanks for sharing these titles. Have a great reading week!

  2. I hadn't heard about this Kate Messner one. It sounds interesting!

  3. Ah! For the Good of Mankind is on my to-read list. It was great to read your review here. You were very busy this week! :) Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the reviews of both of these, Karen. I enjoyed Wake Up Missing, but see your point about younger readers. I also have the book about the yellow death to read, looking forward to it, and may not get to this one, although it sounds interesting!

  5. Can't wait for Wake up missing, just ordered… Sounds like a good partner with Margaret Peterson Haddix's Turnabout… Happy reading to you.