What is the Coronavirus Disease: COVID-19? by Michael Burgan

What is the Coronavirus Disease: COVID-19? by Michael Burgan. Penguin Workshop, 2021. 9780593383612

Format: Paperback

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

What did you like about the book? This slim volume endeavors to explain the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as some of its social, economic, and political effects, in a way that kids can understand.  It begins with useful definitions of some key terms such as virus and bacteria, and an explanation of what a coronavirus is, and then traces the development and spread of COVID from its origins in Wuhan, China in November of 2019 to its worldwide impact throughout 2020.  While not covering any aspect in depth, it does provide a general overview of symptoms, testing, preventive measures, treatments, and statistics (with a particularly American emphasis).  The politics of the pandemic are appropriately treated with objectivity, merely mentioning some of the more volatile issues such as then-President Trump’s disagreements with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the inequity of available treatment for people of color, and the different responses and plans of governors throughout the country.

Following the standard format of the Who HQ series, (although much shorter than most from that collection), this book includes black and white illustrations and maps, a text box about the 1918 influenza pandemic, timelines and recommendations for further reading.  Because of its intentional objectivity, there is a stark lack of sentimentality in the text, but some of the illustrations (closed storefronts, a patient on a ventilator) do convey some of the sadness and malaise so prevalent as a result of the pandemic.  

Anything you did not like about the book?  It’s already really outdated, as its coverage ends in January 2021, barely even mentioning the vaccines that began being implemented at that time.  Young researchers would be well-served to seek out age-appropriate magazine articles for more current information.

To whom would you recommend this book? Upper elementary students needing factual information about COVID-19 for research purposes would find it useful.  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Nonfiction – 614.5

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: September 3, 2021

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