Tag Archives: Jim Murphy

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure

3 Jan

By Ann Lattinville

Stop into the Children’s Room at the Scituate Town Library and take a look at the display we’ve put up of fantastic books that were released in 2012. The breadth and depth of this treasure trove of reading is remarkable. From fiction to nonfiction, picture book to novel, there’s something for every reader. It will be very interesting to see who wins the Caldecott and Newbery Awards this year with such a great field of contenders from which to pick.

One of my favorite nonfiction reads from this year was Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank. The book tracks the fascinating, if grim, history of tuberculosis. Illustrated with archival photographs, this history explains in detail the efforts to cure the disease before germ theory was common knowledge and takes the reader to the workings of the purpose-built hospitals (sanatoria) to care for victims of the tuberculosis. Readers will learn as well about the social stigma attached to contracting tuberculosis. The book concludes with a chilling (but not too scary for kids) account of the resurgence of cases of tuberculosis in recent years, despite our knowledge of how the disease spreads and what kinds of modern medicines can be used to combat it.

Invincible Microbe is available at the Scituate Town Library in hardback. You can also place a hold and pick it up when you are notified of its availability, as there are 16 copies of the book in the Old Colony Library Network.


Pair Invincible Microbe with Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles and a young reader will get a perspective of what was like to be a patient at one of the numerous sanatoria across the country and suffer from this disease. Scituate Town Library has one hardcover copy of this book. Both books are recommended for Grade 5 and up.