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Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  3,639 Ratings  ·  556 Reviews
Ten years ago, in a riveting story of courage and hope, Peg Kehret wrote of the months she spent in a hospital when she was 12. The book deeply touched readers of all ages and received many awards and honors. This anniversary edition includes an updated and extended Epilogue, 12 pages of new photos, and a new section about polio.
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Albert Whitman & Company (first published January 1st 1996)
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Joyce Tratnyek Pegs house, pegs school, sheltering arms, university hospital
Frindle by Andrew ClementsThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateSmall Steps by Peg KehretNight of the Twisters by Ivy RuckmanLunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
2015 Bluestem Nominees
3rd out of 20 books — 8 voters
Boy by Roald DahlRed Scarf Girl by Ji-li JiangSmall Steps by Peg KehretGuts by Gary PaulsenKnots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli
Autobiographies for Kids
3rd out of 24 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 10, 2015 Elaine rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story! My grandmother was born in 1901 and had polio as a young teen (we think that's the right age). Her father was a doctor and had heard about some unorthodox treatments that were being done for polio victims and tried them on her. They involved heat and massage, so I am now assuming these were the Sister Kenny treatments that the author referred to. My grandmother made a full recovery. I'm fascinated that my great grandfather found out about these treatments so early and use ...more
Ms. Foley
Apr 10, 2012 Ms. Foley rated it it was amazing
Kids have been telling me this was their favorite book for years so I finally picked it up and read it. I was not disappointed--it was a wonderful and inspiration story, but not too sappy. She describes her feelings very realistically and she's not always nice about it!
Beth Nieman
Oct 23, 2009 Beth Nieman rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book. I just wish it had a recent copyright so I could recommend it for LOE! I literally could not put it down. Kehret writes in a straightforward and entertaining manner about her sudden polio symptons at age 13, her trip to the emergency room, and the experience of waking up paralyzed.

However, the story doesn't end there--in fact, it's just the beginning. She meets wonderful doctors, nurses and has four roommates, all girls, her own age, and they go through therapy together,
Oct 21, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, memoir
This woman's optimism is contagious, loved it. Especially the epilogue. I realized I never really new much about polio- just the bare basics. Excellent book for pre-teens to be reading especially when you consider some of the other "literature" available to them.
Feb 08, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
it was the best book ever
Oct 10, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it
Shelves: obob-2017
This is the perfect example of why I love the Oregon Battle of the Books program. Prior to this year's selections, I'd never heard of Peg Kehret. In flipping through her extensive bibliography, I wouldn't be surprised if I had read at least one of her books when I was a kid. However, she was a new name to me this year, and she has two books on the list. I read Escaping The Giant Wave first, and it was a fantastic adventure story set in Oregon, so that was great. Then I read Small Steps, and I wa ...more
Faith K
Dec 11, 2012 Faith K rated it it was amazing
Although I haven't read to much of this book I'm in Love with it! It goes in to so much detail and it is definitely character driven. This book tells the story of a girl who obviously got polio. It tells a out her struggles and how she reacts to them. She is so upset and she is super scared. Who wouldn't? She has two different types of polio, one that causes her to not be able to move her arms and legs and one that causes her not to breath very easily.if I was her I would be screaming but she is ...more
Kasey H
Feb 07, 2013 Kasey H rated it really liked it
February 4, 2013

I am currently reading Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, by Peg Kehret. I think that Peg Kehret is so smart to write a story about herself! From the title- it looks like this book is about the year Peg Kehret got Polio. There is no paragraph or sentence that I don't like! I can't stop reading it! Every sentence is rich with descriptive words, action verbs, and everything that makes a sentence good. Actions and nouns, and descriptions- OH MY! You get my point!
Most people have
Melissa K.
Nov 29, 2012 Melissa K. rated it it was amazing
"P-O-L-I-O" Those were the words that Peg and her parents never expected. I don't think you can expect it to.
It all started one afternoon when Peg was noticing a hot fever (103 degress) and muscle cramps. When she went to the doctor, they assumed that she had the flu. The fever contiued for a couple of days. When she woke up the next morning, she was paralyzed! The doctor took Peg to the hospital. There, they diagnosed her with polio, but not just one, three types, bulbar, spinal, and respirator
Sofia A.

I am currently reading this awesome good book. This book is about a 12 year old girl who got three types of Polio. She had to race to the hospital because it was serious. I once had to go to the hospital because I pnemonia. I was only in Kindergarten. In the story she said she had to move to a different hospital because the first hospital could not handle this really bad sickness. At first she could not breathe by herself so she had to use an iron lung. In the book she said that when you
Aug 10, 2015 NebraskaIcebergs rated it really liked it
Polio. This one word describes a life-changing experience of children’s author Peg Kehret. While recently reviewing one of her books, I discovered that Kehret had written a series of memoirs and that all of them were available at my local library. I now want to introduce the first to you.

Growing up in Minnesota, Kehret had a happy life except for a bout in 1949 at age twelve with polio. She writes about this life-changing experience in Small Steps: The Year I got Polio. Kehret’s ordeal began on
In the late 1940s, a young girl rapidly develops polio. And not just one type, but two! This book recounts her story and the long recovery she underwent. It also sheds light on the conditions of treatment and disease before Dr. Salk invented the first vaccine.

My Thoughts
This was a truly eye-opening book. I thought I knew about polio, but what was in my brain was so vague, like measles or mumps or diptheria before I watched "Balto." I'm surprised I've never heard about Sister Kenny, or that "
Nouara Y.
Dec 03, 2012 Nouara Y. rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading Small Steps by Peg Kehret. Small Steps is one of the best books I have ever read, it is about the author, Peg getting a disease called polio. Polio can be a deadly disease, but other cases of polio are different and you can get better within a year. Peg was diagnosed with polio at the age of 12, almost 13. She had to go to a hospital about 2 hours away from her house, the hospital was in Minneapolis and she lived in Austin. She had a hard time breathing so she had to be in ...more
Shruti S
Mar 29, 2013 Shruti S rated it it was amazing
This true story is about a girl named Peg and how her life changed when she got polio. This story starts out when Peg suddenly gets a spasm in her leg at school. In 1948 when this story is set, polio still can be a deadly disease.
This book showed me the differences between a realistic fiction and and true story written in the form of an autobiography. The book I am comparing this t is The Running Dream. Small Steps described snapshots of events from the writer's memory whereas Running Dream flo
Maddie D
Dec 06, 2012 Maddie D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am currently reading Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. This book is by Peg Kehret and this story actually happened to her. So far it has been a great book because I love how Peg tries to overcome polio. This book is about Peg Kehret getting a major virus called polio. But what makes it worse is that she doesn't just have one type of polio, she has three kinds of polio. Peg is only in the seventh grade and now she is paralyzed from the neck down and can barely breathe or swallow.
Whitney Johnson
May 12, 2015 Whitney Johnson rated it it was amazing
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, is my new favorite book. Peg Kehret not only had one type of polio she had three respiratory, spinal, and bulbox. This story is about Pegs journey about getting better and achieving many goals. I highly recommend this page-turner, if you like Peg's fiction books you will definitely will love this non fiction book.
Langston Bealum
Apr 08, 2014 Langston Bealum rated it really liked it
Small steps: The Year I Got Polio is a book about a girl who got polio in 1949. She was the only kid in all of Austin to get it that year. Normally I don't like autobiography, but this time I would recommend this to one of my friend In the end I really liked this book.
Allison Brenner
Jul 26, 2015 Allison Brenner rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing!!!!!! It made me realize that life is pretty awesome for me compared to all the people who have it way worse than me. It made me expecially feel sorry for all the people who suffered from polio. I really enjoyed this book and I think anyone would like this book there is nothing not to like. This book brought tears to my eyes and had a great storyline. It thought me to appreciate what I have and feel bad for others who don't have as much. Overall it is in my top favorites
Aug 12, 2016 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steph by: Luna
Shelves: nonfiction
Caitlin has been bugging me to read this book for years, and I'm so glad I finally did! My first surprise came when I realized it was shelved in the non-fiction section of the library. I hadn't realized that it was more than a YA novel that Caitlin had read in class and wanted me to read too. The story, presented as a novel in first person, is all the more affecting because it is non-fiction. I had never known about polio and all of the people affected by it. When I talked to my mom about this b ...more
Benji K-B
This autobiography about Peg Kehret is absolutely amazing. Peg gets polio, and she has to work hard to fight the disease. Peg soon figures out she has THREE types of polio. She has to take small steps all the way to victorie
Sep 12, 2016 Tina rated it really liked it
This story of a brave girl diagnosed with polio is a great lesson of courage and what it's like to be given a grave diagnosis as a young person. It's a great story.
Nov 18, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story about a girl who contracts polio and completely recovers from it's devastating effects. I loved her detailed, day by day story.
Feb 24, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile, non-fiction
It's definitely worth reading the anniversary edition with excerpts from letters written to the author. I learned a lot about polio that I didn't know and in the past I worked in a travel medicine clinic for an infectious disease doctor. I know polio still exists but the world is getting closer every day to eradicating it. I think anyone considering NOT vaccinating their child should read this book since there is still no cure for polio and treatment hasn't changes in over 60 years and that trea ...more
May 08, 2014 Morgan added it
I felt sad at the beginning of this book when Peg fell at school because she was really sick and she had to see a doctor. I also felt bad when she got polio and had to do exercises. If I got Polio I would probably feel really miserable and frustrated because easy things would be really difficult.
This fantastic memoir recounts author Peg Kehret's battle against polio in the fall of 1949. Her fine details and deft explanation of what was required to come back from paralysis make this an empowering and inspirational story.
Read in preparation for OBOB2017.
Oct 13, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, health
My grandson was reading this book and left it on the coffee table. I idly picked it up and was immediately captured by the story. Ms. Kehret's description of her initial treatment for polio took me back to my experience with a polio scare when I was 4. I ran a fever and had a stiff neck during a polio epidemic just a few years after Peg Kehret's year of polio. To keep the disease from spreading, doctors isolated any child with polio symptoms.

Being separated from your parents when you are sicker
Madie Marie
Mar 27, 2016 Madie Marie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Biography book number 1- In this book, Peg is a student in high school and looking forward to her homecoming. But that afternoon she gets muscle spams in her legs and falls down. She walks home where she sleeps and gets worse. The doctor visits and tells her parents to take her to the hospital where she is diagnosed with various types of polio. At first she is hurting and discouraged when she can't see her family and has a possibility of being put on an iron lung. She has a milkshake despite ins ...more
Savannah Flynn
May 11, 2014 Savannah Flynn rated it it was amazing
I believe this is an amazing book. This has so much determination and strength in it i cant believe it really happened. In this book it said the authors purpose in writing this book was to tell about the year she had gotten polio and what it was like. I think the theme here, is to not give up and to just keep trying because with all your effort and that determination you have it helps. It helps you get just one step father and no matter how strong you were before you got it. Your always going t ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Lydia rated it liked it
This 179 page book was an easy read. The language is simple but the story of Peg Kehret surviving Polio is very touching. Her path from falling in the hallway in school to be paralysed from the neck down within 24 hours. She had three different types of polio, which made her almost face death. The novel is about her path to getting recovered, and her ways of slowly being able to get back into her old habits. She shows others what a big difference it makes not being able to walk, not being able t ...more
Naomi Campbell
Aug 30, 2016 Naomi Campbell rated it it was amazing
Peg is a champion! She is real-life, and yes, this was her life. I had never heard of this book or this author, and when I got to the end, where I'm just all cheers for Peg's survival and her life's story, and so much more well-informed about polio (okay I knew like NOTHING about polio except that President Roosevelt had it and that's why he was in a wheelchair, et cetera) I'm happy to see she did become a writer...not just of this book but other children's books. My daughter was going to read t ...more
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Peg Kehret writes middle grade fiction and nonfiction. She's won dozens of state children's choice awards, where kids vote for their favorite book.

When she was twelve, Peg was paralyzed with polio. Most of her protagonists are the age she was then.

A volunteer with animal rescue groups, three of Peg's books are co-authored by Pete the Cat."
More about Peg Kehret...

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