When author Suzanne Slade read about June Almeida in National Geographic in April, 2020, many of us were still figuring out how the coronavirus pandemic would impact our lives. Suzanne put aside the book she was working on and spent two intense weeks (after serious research and interviewing June's daughter Dr. Joyce Almeida), to complete a decent first draft. She contacted two publishers with whom she had previously worked. She wanted to know who could do the fastest turn-around since she was hoping to get the book out in one year. Sleeping Bear Press was the most excited about the topic and were prepared to "move mountains" to release it in one year-- which they did. In early 2021, Suzanne's book about the woman who discovered the first human coronavirus was published by Sleeping Bear Press. What a timely book!
She also loved her baby brother Harry. When she was ten he died of a serious illness. As she grew up, June never forgot him and the illness that took him away at such a young age.
To help support her family, June left school at 16 and obtained a job at a local hospital. She gained skills in using a microscope. Several years later she used these skills when she started working with a powerful electron microscope.
|Photo from the Washington Post January 2021|
but courtesy of Julie Almeida.
Instead of using light, this huge microscope shot a beam of electrons at the sample being examined. It recored how the electrons acted when they hit the sample and then created a detailed picture...The microscope's photos were helpful. But it was hard to tell which tiny blobs were viruses and which were cells....June was determined to get better pictures.
|Photo courtesy Julie Almeida and A.J. Tyrell.|
Years earlier she'd seen two other viruses that looked like this virus, but researchers rejected her paper saying she couldn't have possibly found a new virus.
CURRICULUM RESOUCEThis inspirational curriculum resource will be a welcome addition to home and classroom libraries in grades 1-4. I love that this STEM book ends with a poem which June wrote, (with apologies to poet William Blake, the author of "The Tyger").
Virus, Virus, shining bright,in the phosphotungstic night,What immortal hand or eye,Dare frame thy fivefold symmetry.
As you can tell from the illustrations and the book trailer below, illustrator Elisa Paganelli and Sleeping Bear Press did a great job paying attention to details. No wonder Suzanne said, "I'm incredibly happy with how the book turned out."
Back matter includes more information bout June, her use of the electron microscope, a timeline, and a bibliography.