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Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America Hardcover – August 4, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—This well-researched biography of Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary, begins in 1906, when Mallon was hired as a cook for a wealthy family vacationing in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The outbreak of typhoid that swept through the household a few weeks later turned out to be a pivotal event that forever changed her life. George Soper, a sanitation engineer and typhoid expert, was hired to discover the source of the disease. He eventually determined that Mallon was what was known as a healthy carrier: although she experienced no symptoms of typhoid, her body continued to produce the bacteria, which she inadvertently shed. Soper took his discovery to the New York City Board of Health, and soon thereafter, Mallon was arrested and quarantined against her will on North Brother Island. Mallon has often been described as ignorant and a menace to society due to her refusal to stop working as a cook when she was later briefly released from quarantine, but Bartoletti tells the woman's story with empathy and understanding. The author also explores the myriad violations of Mallon's civil rights and her unusually harsh treatment in comparison to other healthy typhoid carriers (nationwide 50 carriers were identified at the time, but only Mary was quarantined). Energetic, even charming prose (chapter headings include "In Which Mrs. Warren Has a Servant Problem") will easily engage readers. Pair this work with Gail Jarrow's Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary (Boyds Mills, 2015). VERDICT Middle grade biography lovers will gravitate toward this compelling title.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY
—School Library Journal, starred review
* "Expertly weaving together both historical background and contemporary knowledge about disease and public health, Bartoletti enlivens Mallon's story with engrossing anecdotes and provocative critical inquiry while debunking misconceptions."
—Booklist, starred review
"[A] thoroughly researched biography."
* "Bartoletti skillfully weaves the answers into the beginning of the story, before moving on to Soper's cat-and-mouse game of tracking Mary down and then keeping her quarantined for most of the rest of her life...excellent nonfiction."
—Horn Book Magazine, starred review
"A very comprehensive and engaging account of the sad life story of Mary Mallon."
"Bartoletti delivers a fast-moving biography of Mallon herself...Enthusiastic and accessible, but it remains respectful, offering understanding and empathy for the numerous people affected by the outbreaks that followed in Mallon's wake."
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Susan Campbell Bartoletti not only blasts a long-held image of Typhoid Mary as a...Read more