Reviews for Small Steps : The Year I Got Polio


The Book Report Reviews 1997 May-June
At the suggestion of students who have heard her tell her story, Kehert recounts her own bout with polio as a 12 year old living in Minnesota in 1949. The disease paralyzed her from the neck down and made it difficult to breathe, since she had contracted all three types of polio at once. In an even-handed manner, she describes her ordeal in two hospitals and a rehabilitation center. Because she was in isolation so that her disease would not spread, few family visits were allowed, adding to her distress. The reader can imagine the agony caused by the physical therapist who stretched her muscles until she cried while insisting that someday she would thank her. Later the patient met others who had not received the Sister Kenny treatment promptly and had not made progress. Peg, who had taken for granted that every child had loving parents willing and able to provide for their child, met other children who were not so fortunate. Some had been left in state care because their parents could or would not care for a disabled child. Then she realized that there are worse afflictions than polio. Seven months after her diagnosis she was able to return to school. Later she married, had children, and wrote children's books. Unfortunately she is now experiencing post-polio syndrome. This would make a good booktalk as well as an informative source. B&W photos. Recommended. By Sister Alma Marie Walls Library Media Specialist, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Miami Florida © 1997 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
Popular juvenile mystery author Kehret relates, simply and directly, the story of her bout at age twelve with infantile paralysis. Diagnosed with polio, she was quarantined and taken to a hospital, and later to a rehabilitation center. Recalling memoirs such as Marie Killilea's [cf2]Karen[cf1], Kehret's story is family-centered and heartwarming in a way that seems both old-fashioned and refreshing. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1997 #1
Popular juvenile mystery author Kehret relates, simply and directly, the story of her bout at age twelve with infantile paralysis. All excited about her part in the upcoming 1949 Homecoming parade in her small Minnesota town, Peg suddenly found herself feverish and unable to control the muscles of her arms and legs. Diagnosed with polio, she was quarantined and taken to a hospital in Minneapolis, and later to a rehabilitation center, where she slowly learned to walk again. Recalling memoirs such as Marie Killilea's Karen, Kehret's story is family-centered and heartwarming in a way that seems both old-fashioned (polio was the sole blemish on an otherwise idyllic childhood) and refreshing (the suffering of the past being mitigated by the cheerful writing of the present). Oddly, the topic of polio is a rare one in children's literature, and the book should not only attract the author's fans but also those who can appreciate-from a safe distance-an account of a once greatly feared childhood disease. r.s. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1996 October
~ From a writer known for her fiction, a moving memoir about a 12-year-old who got polio in 1949 in Austin, Minnesota. Kehret (Earthquake Terror, 1996, etc.) describes the disease, the diagnosis, the severe symptoms, treatments, physical therapy, slow recovery, and return home with walking sticks--and how she was forever changed. After her fever broke and she lay paralyzed in the hospital, her parents delivered a big brown packet of letters from her classmates. ``I had a strange feeling that I was reading about a different lifetime . . . none of this mattered. I had faced death. I had lived with excruciating pain and with loneliness and uncertainty about the future. Bad haircuts and lost ball games would never bother me again.'' There are touching black-and-white photographs of her roommates, who had already been there for ten years. Kehret's were the only parents who visited her each Sunday, and soon ``adopted'' her fellow polio victims. A simple, direct, and sometimes self-deprecating style of writing tenderly draws readers into Kehret's experiences and the effects of the disease firsthand. Almost a half-century later, this lovely book refocuses attention on what matters most: health, love of family, friends, determination, generosity, and compassion. (Nonfiction. 8-13) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 November
Gr 4-6-Although young readers today might only associate the word "polio" with a vaccination, this well-written account gives them a hard look at the devastating physical and emotional effects of the disease. In l949, there were 42,000 cases reported in the U.S.; the author was the only one stricken in her hometown that year. She writes in an approachable, familiar way, and readers will be hooked from the first page on. The author details her diagnosis, treatment, frustration, and pain. Perhaps the most startling part of the book is her description of the sudden onset of the illness, coming with no warning and leaving her paralyzed. Although this is an excellent record of the progress of the disease, it is also a fascinating account of how an ordinary girl with crushes and homecoming dreams had to live for part of her adolescence in an artificial, restricted environment. In the epilogue, Kehret describes her current battle with post-polio syndrome, and brings readers up to date on the lives of her fellow patients and friends at the Sheltering Arms Hospital. An honest and well-done book.-Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, NY

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