About the Holiday
Instituted in 1975, Medical Laboratory Professionals Week aims to raise awareness of and an appreciation for the importance of laboratory professionals to patient care. Better and more accurate diagnoses as well as targeted treatment are accomplished through the specialized knowledge and dedication of laboratory technicians. This year, especially, we celebrate these individuals who have worked tirelessly to help create a vaccine to combat the COVID-19 virus. Laboratory Science can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for science– and medical-minded students. To learn more about today’s holiday and the work of laboratory professionals, visit the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science website and LibraryScienceCareers.
Germs Up Close
By Sara Levine
You know they’re there. It’s hard to forget, since people keep reminding you: “wash your hands,” “use sanitizer,” “sneeze into your elbow,” “don’t leave food out too long.” But since you can’t see the germs, it can be hard to remember all the time. If only you could see what everyone is warning you about that might make it easier. Well, now you can with Sara Levine’s book Germs Up Close (and I mean really, really close), which also tells you exactly where germs come from and what they do.
How can you see a germ? “With special magnifying equipment and some dye to make their parts show up,” you can see exactly what different kinds of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses look like. And you might be surprised to discover that they are very “interesting and beautiful to look at.” Levine lets you in on some fascinating facts about each type of germ, including how its name is pronounced, its common name, its microscopic appearance, where it lives, some diseases it causes, and some more you ought to know. So, let’s get started.
Okay, let’s have a show of (clean) hands! “Have you ever had a cavity? An ear infection? Strep throat?” Yeah? Then you’re already acquainted with bacteria. Sounds bad, huh? Well, yes and no. Levine explains that the majority of bacteria on your body are actually helpful. It’s the bad bacteria that can make us sick that are called germs. In her section on bacteria, Levine introduces kids to salmonella, spirillum, staphylococcus, streptococcus, and Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) with colorful photographs of each of these “round, hotdog-shaped, or wormlike and squiggly bacteria.
Next up are protozoa. You know not to drink pond water or dirty water, right? These little, one-cell-big guys are the reason why. Here, kids learn about “trypanosoma, the germ that causes sleeping sickness,” plasmodium, which causes malaria, and giardia, which causes giardiasis, an intestinal infection. Turning the page, they’ll discover different kinds of fungi, some of which are edible, like mushrooms and yeast, and others which can produce itchy rashes, yeast infections, or ringworm.
And now we come to a germ you’re all very familiar with: the virus. If you’ve had a cold or the flu or “been vaccinated against viral infections that used to be very common such as mumps, measles, and chickenpox,” you’ve heard about viruses. And, of course, we all know about the coronavirus. But what do these germs look like? Kids get to see them in all of their round, peas-in-a-pod, peanut-shaped, or knob-covered wonder.
But how can we stop germs in their tracks or fight them when they do invade? “The good news is that our bodies take care of most of this for us” through our immune system. Levine gives kids a detailed overview of the ways our skin, mucus, saliva, and stomach acid combat the germs that assail us. She also talks about the different kinds of white blood cells we have and how each kills germs. Illustrations show what the five types of white blood cells look like and their comparative sizes.
Levine reminds kids of all the ways people can protect themselves from surface and air-borne germs as well as germs that are transmitted through food and water. Her discussion on vaccines explains how they work and prepare white blood cells to recognize and fight germs. Still, sometimes we do get sick, and Levine reassures kids that there are medicines for each kind of germ that can make the better.
A glossary, a list of eleven careers that revolve around germs or helping sick people, and resources for further reading or research follow the text.
Sara Levine strikes just the right balance of humor and hard science facts in her engaging and educational book about the germs that make us sick as well as good bacteria and fungi, how our body protects us from most germs, and the vaccines and medicines that help us get well. Through her compelling writing style, Levine presents complex concepts in ways that make it easy for readers to embrace biological and medical science and get excited about research and learning more.
The stunning color photographs of various types of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses with their unusual shapes – some sporting protrusions like a hairbrush and others that look like they could be the stars of their own sci-fi picture book or TV show – will wow kids and spark a fascination for this important field of knowledge and research.
A fantastic book to add to home libraries for kids who are interested in medicine, biology, veterinary science, and other research sciences, Germs Up Close is a must for school libraries to enhance science, STEM, and research lessons as well as for public library collections.
Ages 5 – 10
Millbrook Press, 2021 | ISBN 978-1728424088
Discover more about Sara Levine and her books on her website.
Medical Laboratory Professionals Week Activity
Look Out for Germs! Word Search
Find the twenty-three words associated with germs in this printable word search puzzle.
You can find Germs Up Close at these booksellers
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review