karen's Reviews > An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

An American Plague by Jim  Murphy
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Apr 15, 12

bookshelves: mark-harmon

it is inconceivable to me that this is a book intended for children. the beginning part is fine, but the last chapter or so is paralyzingly terrifying. if i had read this as a child, it would have given me night terrors for years and even now i would think of it with chills, as i do with "tailypo". brrr... this book chronicles an outbreak of yellow fever that killed 5000 people. and by chronicling, i mean it goes into details of black-bile-vomiting, and women giving birth to babies where both die within moments etc... and then - THEN - the last chapter is devoted to the oh-so-reassuring information that there is still no cure and it is only a matter of time before this happens again and mosquitoes are getting stronger and stronger and we have fewer options for prevention. and its delivered in this blithe, casual shrugging tone, AND THIS IS HOW THE BOOK ENDS!! not with a bang, but a quiet buzzing.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

It's really young adult, not juvenile lit. And YA is geared from 7th grade through high school. Is that conceivable? I haven't read this one.


karen thats a little better. does it say that somewhere, or is there something i dont know about childrens books (there is a lot i dont know about childrens books) because some of the newberry books look like they are for much much younger readers. and this one would scare kids reading the black pearl, i think.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I just always read reviews of Newbery (and other ALA winners), and they referred to it as YA when that one was honored.


karen all right, then i can approve. i think it should be read right before the prom.


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen Spring Break on a beach. At dusk. In Texas.


karen shall i mail you a copy?


message 7: by Jen (new)

Jen No- just give it to someone as a high school graduation present.


Jackie "the Librarian" There are certain kids who LOVE to read about death and destruction. The more gory details, the better!


karen oh totally, i know they would love to read about the historical disease part, but the ending is more or less, "this could happen again riiiiiight - now! and theres nothing you can do about it!" and thats what scares me. brrr


message 10: by Chris (new)

Chris Well now, you did ask for books that would scare you! LOL Guess you found one! Great review, I will check this one out. :)


karen hahah i guess i did. now i have to be on constant lookout for mosquitoes..


message 12: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Glad I didn't read this review before I went to the Panama Canal a few weeks ago! Yike-aroo!!!


karen hah. cruise.


message 14: by Misty (new) - rated it 1 star

Misty Erickson Yes, I am shaking my head at all these good reviews for this book. Just because it won awards doesnt mean its appropriate!


karen agggg!! you just reminded me how scared i am!


message 16: by Misty (new) - rated it 1 star

Misty Erickson It's sick right?!


karen yes! that's it - i am staying indoors today.


message 18: by Laima (last edited Apr 15, 2012 09:13AM) (new)

Laima Sounds like a creepy book - nightmare inducing. I felt like that reading The Hot Zone.


message 19: by Joe (last edited Apr 15, 2012 09:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe True story: My friend and I had cocktails with Jim Murphy on Friday night. He told us that he knew kids - especially boys - would respond to the vile descriptions. I can state for the record they do. And they learn something, too, which is even better!


message 20: by Katie (new)

Katie I agree that this sounds like a great read just before Prom night. lol


message 21: by Trudi (new)

Trudi This book would have traumatized me too! and probably still would. And Tailypo...eek! Good times :)

Since you raised such a good point on age appropriateness karen, I did do some snooping around. Newbery terms and criteria define "Children" as: persons of ages up to and including fourteen. Newbery has also been accused of sometimes choosing books either too difficult or too mature. I have questioned some of their selections in the past. Though not many: I think they do a fabulous job most of the time.

Novelist categorizes this book as Young Adult, yet lists the Minimum Grade Level as Grade 4 (9 or 10 years old). Can you imagine a 9 year old reading this? I guess if you knew they were really precocious and brave, and not prone to hypochondria and anxiety!!


karen Trudi wrote: "This book would have traumatized me too! and probably still would. And Tailypo...eek! Good times :)

Since you raised such a good point on age appropriateness karen, I did do some snooping around. ..."


tailypo... don't get me started. but interesting newbery facts - i always thought it was much much younger. and yet the format of this - i don't see a 14-year-old reading it, but the content is that-age-appropriate. confusing.

Joe wrote: "True story: My friend and I had cocktails with Jim Murphy on Friday night. He told us that he knew kids - especially boys - would respond to the vile descriptions. I can state for the record they d..."

casual name-dropper!! also - awesome!!!


message 23: by Tuck (new)

Tuck jim murphy has written many hard hitting kickass books, ranging from little-kids-barely-can-read level to senior-high-school level. generally in public library JUV non-fiction is all put together and "ya nonfiction" is with adult nf, but the juvenile subject headings are left in so that prospective readers know ahead of time that the book is meant for kids. long live black bile vomit
The Boys' War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War


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