Almost Home by Christine Gleason, M.D.
On your way home from work the other night, you stopped by the store to pick up some things you needed. You had a few items in mind (isn’t it always like this?), but you bought more than was on your list: a gallon of milk, a bag of apples, three cans of soup, two liters of soda and a frozen pizza. It was packed nicely in one bag and you headed home.
Now, imagine a baby so tiny that its cradle could almost be made from the empty milk jug. A baby that weighs slightly more than your frozen pizza. In the new book, “Almost Home,” by Christine Gleason, M.D., you’ll read about the lives and deaths of those infants and a doctor who worked to save them.
Although she says she was never a “kid person” as a teenager, when Gleason finally went to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) during her pediatric internship, she discovered, to her surprise, that she enjoyed working with tiny, fragile premature babies.
But her specialty career had a nearly inauspicious start. After three months of working in the ER, Gleason’s first day in the NICU arrived in September 1979 and was filled with very sick babies. Like a first love, though, it’s hard for a doctor to forget her first patient.
For a long time, the baby had no name and no visitors, except the doctors and nurses who cared for him. His mother was young, poor, unmarried, scared and unwilling to become attached to an infant she figured would die. Undaunted and knowing that the baby needed his mother as much as his mother needed closure, Gleason talked the girl into visiting her child one last time.
Over the course of Gleason’s career, there were many memorable babies: Owen, the infant who almost caused Gleason to abandon her career; Linda, the teenager who was laughing one minute and dying the next; Patrick, who charmed the NICU staff and was eventually adopted by one of his nurses; Emily, the baby caught between her parents’ cultures; Joshua, whose mother wouldn’t live to see his first birthday; and Harry, who changed his mother’s life in unexpected ways.
“Almost Home” is one of those rare books that I didn’t want to end, not just because of the stories Gleason tells, but also because of the gentle, knowledgeable way she tells them. Gleason weaves triumphs and failures in the NICU with personal stories of a soured marriage, an on-again, off-again relationship, and eventually, babies of her own. Each patient’s story is told truthfully – mistakes, guesses and positive outcomes included. There are tears in this book, some can-you-believe-it moments and plenty of smiles to make you awed and “awwwwww-”ed.
While I wouldn’t hand this book to the brand-new parents of a preemie, it’s perfect for other Moms, Dads, and grandparents, and would make a nice thank-you to a special doctor. For them, and for readers who love true-medicine books, “Almost Home” is heavy with goodness.
Why is Snot Green? by Glenn Murphy
“Why?” That’s a question you ask your parents at least 10 times a day. “Why can’t I go to my friend’s house?” “Why can’t I have cookies for dinner?” “Why won’t you drive me to the store?” It’s enough to make a kid crazy.
So, did you ever wonder why boiling-hot lava melts rock, but doesn’t melt volcanoes? Or why we don’t live on other planets? In the new book ,“Why is Snot Green?,” by Glenn Murphy, you’ll find answers to the things you’ve been wondering about science, nature, and your body.
Let’s start with something big, the biggest thing you can think of: the universe. How big is that? Well, let’s say you’re in a space car going 60 miles an hour and you want to drive to the edge of the Milky Way. Better pack a good lunch, because it would take you around a million billion years to get there. If you’re thinking a quick trip to the sun might be easier, you might want to hurry. The Earth moves about a half inch farther away from the sun each year.
While you’re taking your trip in the galaxy, be sure you don’t fart in your spacesuit. That’s because you can’t open or unzip your suit in space; doing so would boil your insides and freeze your skin solid. Because you don’t want that to happen, you’d have to leave your spacesuit on and deal with the smell that would get trapped and recirculate in your suit’s air supply.
Speaking of passing gas, did you know that almost all animals do it? Yep, even snakes make smellies. The creatures that don’t are the ones that don’t have guts – like jellyfish and some worms. But can they smell them? Maybe. Animals can see, smell and hear things we can’t; for instance, spiders “hear” with their legs. Dogs can hear twice as well as we can, and bats can hear better than that. Some falcons can see rabbits from three miles away.
And as for snot…? It’s “the result of a fight between nasty bugs and body cells that make green-colored goo.” Think about that next time you pick your nose. Worried that your kids may get out of the learning habit during summer vacation? You won’t need to fret if you hand them this book.
“Why is Snot Green?” is a fun-to-read book that answers a lot of things kids have thought about and quite a few they haven’t – yet. What makes it such a delight is that Murphy writes in a back-and-forth format that reads like regular conversation, including arguments, answers that lead to more questions and more than just a few snickers. Best of all, if your child leaves this book lying around, you won’t feel silly if you read and enjoy it, too.
If your 8-to-13-year-old is complaining of boredom, missing school or is looking for something to take on vacation this year, “Why is Snot Green?” is a good book to pick. And, for under 10 bucks, what’s snot to like?
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.