Tu Youyou's Discovery: Finding a Cure for Malaria
by Songju Ma Daemicke; illus. by Lin
32 pages; ages 4-9
Albert Whitman & Company, 2021
theme: discovery, biography, women
In 1969, people all across the world were sick.
Malaria was spreading, and was resistant to known treatments. Chloroquine, a Western malaria medicine, wasn’t working, and Tu Youyou wanted to help find a cure. So she studied traditional Chinese medicine books and traveled to provinces where malaria had spread. After hearing about one of the plants used to treat fevers, Youyou dug up a few plants and took them back to her lab. Her team chopped and soaked and boiled and filtered and tested and … it didn’t work.
That didn’t stop them. They tried other plants, and other ways of preparing the medicines. It took nearly 200 tries to find something that worked!
What I like about this book: This story reflects what so much of science is: trial, error, more study, new experiments, and most of all Never Giving Up. I like the back matter, where there is a timeline of Tu Youyou’s life up through 2015 when she received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her work. And there’s an explanation of the scientific process.
Beyond the Books:
Learn more about Tu Youyou and her search for a malaria cure. You can read about her here and also watch this video.
Be an herbologist! You can grow some medicinal plants in a window box or in your garden. Mint and chamomile are two plants that are used to help settle upset tummies. Remember when Peter Rabbit drank chamomile tea?