Friday, December 3, 2021

STEM girls never give up!


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?

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the author, Songju Ma Daemicke. She’ll join us next month with a guest post. You can visit her website here.


  1. Sue, This is a great book. I love her determination and your herbolist activity.

  2. I've been meaning to read this book. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I am enjoying learning about so many new-to-me scientists in the last couple of years! Will look for this too!

  4. I love learning the stories about scientists, little known to me, who have made extraordinary inroads into finding disease. Great STEM book for budding scientists, botanists etc.