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Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio Paperback – January 1, 1996

4.9 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Peg contracts polio in 1949, but she survives the initial paralysis and eventually learns to walk again. Her engaging account will fascinate readers as she relates the symptoms, treatments, and effects of the disease. Kehret also describes antiquated treatments such as the Iron Lung. Black-and-white photos add to the story's appeal. Audio version available from AudioGO.α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Gr. 3^-5. This heartfelt memoir takes readers back to 1949 when the author, at age 12, contracted polio. Using fictionalized dialogue, she describes her seven-month ordeal--her diagnosis and quarantine, her terrifying paralysis, her slow and difficult recuperation--and the people she encountered along the way. Kehret supplies a few words about the illness in a foreword, but because there is little sense of how medicine has evolved since her hospitalization, some children may find the vivid picture she paints scary indeed. Scary, too, is the epilogue, in which Kehret admits to having post-polio syndrome. Curious children who love Kehret's middle-grade thrillers may pick this up, but since there's little about her life as a writer, it will most likely be children interested in medical issues who will follow through. Stephanie Zvirin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 8
  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807574589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807574584
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on December 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret, Peg has plenty of friends, a brother, and two loving parents. She's the average middle school girl. How much more normal can you get? One day while in choir class, she has this terrible muscle spasm. That's the beginning of what made her unique.
Peg's temperature rises, and is taken to the hospital, only to find out she has polio, the only case in her town of that year. Peg is immediately put into isolation, where she becomes paralyzed from the neck down, and cannot breathe properly. She develops not only one type of polio, not two, but three types. The author made me feel like I was there, witnessing Peg's discomfort.
Read about Peg's feelings as her polio worsens, then gets better. Share her triumphs and disappointments. You'll be caught up in this book, and you won't want to put it down.
Peg Kehret tells what happens in Peg's fight against polio. The author really makes you feel like you're there. I think people of all ages looking for a good drama will really enjoy this book. It teaches you what happens when you're willing to try anything to get things the way you want them. This book takes you away from your world, and into Peg Shulze's.
MorgTC & CBTherese
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A Kid's Review on December 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Kristie Loftus


Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Peg Kehret


Have you ever thought of what it would be like one day, waking up, feeling completely fine, and then you have a muscle spasm, and you find out later that you have a disease that can severely hurt you, or even kill you? In the book, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, Peg comes to find that she has three different types of polio. She started off with just a muscle spasm, thinking it was no big deal. She later finds out she has polio. Then she finds out that not only does she have polio, but three different types. She meets a few people in her journey through different hospitals. This story is a page-turner; it's amazing to see how strong some people really are, not on the outside, but on the inside as well.

This book is incredible. People think that their lives are so terrible, but really when you think about it, and you read this book, you realize things aren't as bad as they seem. I mean, I am not one that loves to read, but to hear someone else's story, and about there life, it's shocking. I honestly, would never be able to deal with what she went through. She went from hospital to hospital; she dealt with the mean nurse that made her put hot rags on her skin to help loosen her muscles. I would never be able to handle the stretching, and the hot rags or any of that. It shocked me to hear that polio can kill you. Some of the girls in the room that she stayed with had polio also, Alice has had it since she was little, and her family didn't want a blob sitting/laying around all day. One of the other girls had to lay in an iron-lung, because her lungs were not strong enough to let her breathe on her own.
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A Kid's Review on September 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Small Steps: The Year I got Polio should be read by teens,because it shows how to overcome struggles. It is about a young girl who has been dearly loved all of her life, when suddenly she is ripped out of a loving home and forced to live in a isolation ward. One of her struggles is being paralyzed from the neck down. She cannot move any part of her body except her head. Peg is faced with many hardships throughout the book. For instance she has to endure Sister Kenny treatments which are extremely painful. Overall this book was a fantastic novel about a young girl facing obstacles.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this to my 10 year old son because I wanted him to understand the importance of those irritating shots at the doctor. He LOVED it. Every day he asked me to read more to him. It is not every book that gets him that excited, and since this does not contain dragons or robots, I didn't expect such enthusiasm. He was extremely concerned early on that she would die of polio, and I had to give him the spoiler that it's an autobiography, therefore we know she lives - after all, she wrote the book. He was very relieved, and wanted to see pictures to prove it. That was his level of involvement with this book.

Ultimately, this book is very accessible for people of any age, but especially kids. The language is simple but paints clear pictures of how Peg felt. She writes about the sadness of losing a favorite stuffed animal and the incredible joy of being able to drink a chocolate milkshake after being refused it for days. These simple things make it easy to relate to Peg and the other kids she writes about, even if we can't relate to her experience with polio.

As a parent, I appreciate all the information included about the history of polio. I appreciate the lessons Peg learned and shares with us, including never giving up, the importance of family, and how small kindnesses can make a big difference. There are beautiful life lessons subtly woven into this book that can provide great topics of conversation.

I recommend this book for any kid or family.
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