Deborah Hopkinson

Award Winning Author of Fiction & Nonfiction for Children & Teens

The Deadliest Diseases Then and Now

Deadliest Diseases Then and Now

What is this book about?

The dead­ly out­break of plague known as the Great Mor­tal­i­ty, which struck Europe in the mid 1300s and raged for four cen­turies, wiped out more than 25 mil­lion peo­ple in the course of just two years. With its vicious onslaught, life changed for mil­lions of peo­ple almost instantaneously.

Dead­ly pan­demics have always been a part of life, from the Great Mor­tal­i­ty of the Mid­dle Ages, to the Span­ish Influen­za out­break of 1918, to the erup­tion of COVID-19 in our own cen­tu­ry. Many of these dis­eases might have seemed like things to read about in his­to­ry books — until the unthink­able hap­pened, and our own lives were turned upside down by the emer­gence of the nov­el coronavirus.

As we learn more about COVID-19, we may be curi­ous about pan­demics of the past. Know­ing how humans fought dis­eases long ago may help us face those of today. In this fast-paced, wide-rang­ing sto­ry filled with facts, pic­tures, and dia­grams about dis­eases — from plague to small­pox to polio to influen­za — Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son brings voic­es from the past to life in this explo­ration of the dead­liest dis­eases of then and now. Filled with more than 50 peri­od pho­tographs and illus­tra­tions, charts, facts, and pull-out box­es for eager non­fic­tion readers.

Awards and Accolades

  • Vir­ginia Library Asso­ci­a­tion, 2023 Car­di­nal Cup Award, Series of Note



“The bulk of the vol­ume focus­es on the bubon­ic plague from the 14th cen­tu­ry to the 1910s, alter­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal and sci­ence chap­ters, and fre­quent­ly debunk­ing estab­lished the­o­ries. The author’s chum­my use of the first per­son “we” lets read­ers learn along­side her as she reveals infor­ma­tion gleaned from experts, trans­form­ing her writ­ing into the style of one of the Mid­dle Ages plague chron­i­clers she fre­quent­ly quotes. Addi­tion­al chap­ters on the 1918 influen­za and COVID-19 pan­demics add con­text to under­stand­ing how far med­i­cine has come in han­dling con­ta­gious dis­eases. Infor­ma­tive cap­tioned pho­tographs alter­nate with evoca­tive pen-and-ink illus­tra­tions. Bold vocab­u­lary words are explained con­tex­tu­al­ly as well as defined in the cor­re­spond­ing glos­sary. Sup­ple­men­tal mate­ri­als include two fun quizzes and a call to be “a Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Chron­i­cler” of COVID-19, as well as fur­ther read­ing and a select­ed bib­li­og­ra­phy. Source notes, which the author describes as anal­o­gous to “evi­dence that a detec­tive col­lects to make a case,” and a com­pre­hen­sive index also sup­port researchers. VERDICT Good for bud­ding mid­dle school epi­demi­ol­o­gists and his­to­ry buffs who can’t resist a book about dis­eases. (School Library Jour­nal)

Deadliest Diseases Then and Now

author, Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son
Scholas­tic Focus
ages 7 and up, 2021
ISBN 978–1338360202

buy the book 
you may also like: