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Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio…

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio (Turtleback School & Library Binding… (edição: 1996)

de Peg Kehret (Autor)

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5542033,786 (4.43)9
The author describes her battle against polio when she was thirteen and her efforts to overcome its debilitating effects.
Título:Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)
Autores:Peg Kehret (Autor)
Informação:Turtleback Books (1996), Edition: Turtleback School & Library ed., 184 pages
Coleções:Children's Books, Sua biblioteca

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Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio de Peg Kehret


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Great memoir of a specific time in author's life. Hard to imagine the fear that this disease must've caused and how wonderful that it is no longer a threat thanks to vaccinations. As Kehret mentions, she wept with joy when her own daughter was inoculated. From being paralyzed from the neck down at age 12, to walking again at age 13, her account of this year of her life made me very grateful for small mercies. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
If I had to choose to name one book as the most inspiring book I've ever read, it just might be this one. Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret is a true story of hope, healing, courage, resilience, and the determination to fight and win against a terrible disease despite overwhelming odds.

Each time I read Small Steps, I experience along with the author her joys and sorrows, her laughter and tears, her defeats and victories. The book vividly conveys each event - including the author's terrifying polio diagnosis, illness, and complete paralysis at the age of 12; facing great pain and the threat of death; her long and difficult recovery; each of the family members, roommates, and medical professionals who were with her each step of the way; and much more. I admire the author's courage, resilience, determination, joy, and will to survive and recover, and her immense spirit that couldn't be extinguished. I feel for her as I read about each event and struggle she went through. She's honest about her despair, terror, and each of her other feelings, but she never loses her hope and determination even when faced with the possibility of death or the probability of lifelong paralysis or disability.

And through it all, she also never lost her sense of humor, choosing to have joy and make jokes even through immense pain, hardship, and loneliness. This book makes me laugh often, at the events the author experienced or caused, the way she tells about them, her self-deprecating wit, or the jokes she made in moments of difficulty.

Small Steps doesn't just make me laugh - it also makes me cry many, many times throughout the book, in a good way. It's rare for a book to make me cry real tears even once, but this book made me cry often throughout on my most recent read - genuine tears and even sobs. I cried at the author's experiences and hardship, from reading about the thoughts or feelings that are similar to ones I've experienced, from the sadness that it brings me to be aware of the suffering of so many people who face serious illness, at the example of the wonderful doctors who cared for her and comforted the author, and with tears and sobs of joy at her healing and recovery.

The author's writing style is smooth, crisp, and vivid, and it draws me into the story, and her bright personality, wit, and sense of humor shine throughout the book. And even more than in fiction, there are wholesome themes and insights presented in this book - subtle and never blatant, such as the author increasing in kindness, generosity, and being aware of the hardship of others, while being honest about being resentful of them at first.


For me, the most wonderful part of Small Steps, aside from the author and her personal story, are the other people that populate the pages of this book. Each person she met along the way impacted her in some way, and she writes about them insightfully. So many people helped her in her journey of illness and healing, and she remembers them with fondness and gratefulness. In addition to feeling like I know the author herself through her honesty and vivid, personal voice, she brings colorfully to life each other person in her story, making me feel as if I know each of them as well.

The most prominent of all were her parents - a kind, caring, generous couple who loved their daughter more than anything and were willing to go to great lengths to provide her with the best medical care possible. Their actions on several occasions literally made the difference of life and death for the author, and they walked beside her faithfully during every step of the way, making it possible for her to survive and gain a full recovery. I also love watching her parents care for and show love to the author's young roommates, acting as surrogate parents to the rest of them as well. During the events of this book, the author learned how lucky she was to have such wonderful and loving parents, and it reminds me of my own parents, who are just as wonderful - and I appreciate my parents along with the author.

Just as instrumental were the doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who treated the author and fought with her for her life and health. Two of them in particular were especially important and inspiring to the author and to me as a reader. Her favorite doctor, a young intern named Dr. Bevis, cared for her during the most intense phase of her illness and early recovery, and he went above and beyond in his care. He helped sealed the author's determination to recover, and he inspired her resolve to get well and walk again. The other individual, a young physical therapist, Miss Ballard, was the one who helped her recover the rest of the way and do just that - walk again. Both of their compassionate, kind, and caring medical treatment - and personal care rather than just mechanical physical treatment - impacted the author hugely. Without them, she would not have recovered the way she did, and seeing it moved me to tears on more than one occasion. And these two individuals and several kind nurses contrast sharply with another nurse, doctor, and physical therapist who were insensitive or mean to the author.

The author was also impacted by the sweet roommates who cheered her on in her healing even while they recovered more slowly or not at all. Their bond was forged as they fought the same terrible disease, and they supported each other through hardship and rejoiced in each other's joys and victories. Though the author at first resented her first roommate, a young boy in an iron lung named Tommy, they quickly grew to be inseparable. And the same was true of the four girls who were her roommates at the second hospital where the author spent her recovery. I loved reading about their sweet times together and the author's sisterly bond with each of them. Their sweet spirits, courage, determination, and resilience matched that of the author herself, and they inspire me as well.


I first read Small Steps at the age of 10, and it was the first memoir I had read - but it was by no means the last. I've read this book many, many times since then, as a preteen,as a teenager, and now as an adult, and it's impacted and inspired me each time - and made me laugh and cry. It remains one of my top few all-time favorite books, and for good reason. Out of the many, many autobiographies I have read and loved since first reading this book, this one remains one of the very best.

Unlike when I read the book as a child, I now have a chronic illness of my own, and though it's nothing compared to polio, it's been a long and difficult journey of many years of illness and slow, difficult recovery. It's encouraging and healing for me to read about the author's journey and experiences, and I see my own mirrored in hers. A few of my experiences have been almost exactly the same as hers - her thoughts and feelings about her illness, a few of her physical symptoms (though much less severe), the losses and discouragement she went through, and the destruction of all her dreams and her future. I wept on many occasions throughout the book as I read of her struggles and hardship, and I sobbed tears of joy at her recovery - and it renewed my hope that someday, I will recover and get well, like her, even though it seems impossible - as it did for her. I also cried with mixed comfort and sadness at the reminder that there are many, many others like me - young people who suffer from a serious, long-term illness, during years when we should be especially healthy and strong. It's comforting to remember that I'm not alone, and it's heartbreaking to be aware - as I have been before - of the suffering of so many others who are much worse off than me.

In addition to identifying with the author's experiences of illness, I'm inspired by the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who helped the author on her journey. Though I didn't foresee it when I first read this book, I'm now heading towards nursing school, and I'm passionate about my future career as a nurse. I'm inspired by the example of the wonderful people who provided medical care to the author during the events of this book - especially one doctor and one physical therapist in particular, whom I mentioned above, but also including other wonderful nurses and hospital staff. I want to be like them, and it's moving for me to see the impact that a skilled and compassionate medical professional can have on one patient or many - it even made me cry on multiple occasions during the book. I also do not want to be like the handful of insensitive, unkind, or mean doctors, nurses, or therapists the author encountered as well, who hurt her in more ways than one and made her journey more painful and difficult. However, I'm grateful and inspired to see that overall, the author's experience at both hospitals she stayed at were incredibly happy and beneficial - so much so that she didn't want to leave each time she was transferred or discharged.


I think every individual would enjoy and benefit from this wonderful book. Though the writing style is mature and sophisticated, the length and reading level are targeted toward middle-grade readers (ages 8-13) of the age the author was at the time of her experiences. I find that very appropriate, and I can't imagine the book any other way. But Small Steps is no less enjoyable for teens and adults of any age, and my whole family has enjoyed this book immensely. It's especially eye-opening for those who don't know about polio or who have never been through hardship or illness, and it's a wonderful book for young readers or readers of all ages. It's also squeaky clean - though I won't give it to my little sister until she's old enough to read one extremely brief mention of a crush, or of another character calling a young man cute - and the medical details are never the kind that would be uncomfortable for a sensitive or squeamish reader. (There is one small mention of a spinal tap, but it's not in-depth, over in a brief sentence or two, and should not be bothersome.)

Overall, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio is an amazing true story that I think everyone should read. With quality writing, engaging storytelling, humor, joy, raw honesty, and inspiring hope, Peg Kehret shares the amazing story of her determined fight to survive and recover from polio and paralysis. I've read this book many, many times and enjoyed it immensely each time, and this will by no means be the last. I can't recommend it highly enough. ( )
  Aerelien | Mar 23, 2020 |
Peg Kehret shares her personal experiences with a disease that has been all but wiped from the world through childhood vaccinations. Her account is honest at its core with memories that will make you smile and some that will make you cry. ( )
  kristennicoson | Dec 7, 2019 |
A good mentor text for memoir. Kehret intersperses scientific and historical information about polio and its treatments, connecting these ideas to her own situation. A story of struggle, and fighting to overcome great hardship. Strong examples of friendship and support among Kehret and her friends in the treatment center. Grades 3 and up.
  afshaffer | Jul 17, 2017 |
This is the true story of twelve year old Peg Kehret as she battles Polio. This remarkable autobiography begins the day that Peg leaves school early due to cramping and feeling feverish. She quickly declines and is brought to the hospital where she finds she has multiple forms of polio that leave her (temporarily) paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe. Miraculously, with time, Peg slowly recovers to the point where she is once again able to walk. The story takes the reader step by step through Peg's healing process as she makes many friends and finds herself growing up and changing throughout the whole ordeal.

Although not very fast paced, this is a beautiful story of hope and resilience. Peg presents her story from her own twelve year old perspective with amazing humor and relatability. This would be a wonderful book for upper elementary students to read as they learn more about disability, empathy and courage in spite of life's circumstances.

-Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award
-Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction
-Mark Twain Readers Award

Awards Description:
-Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award: This award, started in 1957, is meant to honor excellence in children's literature. One new American children's book is voted on each year by Vermont students in grades 4-5 from a list of 30 nominees.
-Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction:
Instituted in 1973, the Golden Kite Awards are the only children's literary award judged by a jury of peers. Eligible books must be written or illustrated by SCBWI members, and submitted either by publishers or individuals.
-Mark Twain Readers Award: a children's book award which annually recognizes one book selected by vote of Missouri schoolchildren from a list prepared by librarians and volunteer readers.

APA Citation: Kehret, P., & Shanahan, D. (1996). Small steps: The year I got polio. United States: Whitman, Albert & Company. ( )
  BrittaSchlect | Oct 13, 2016 |
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For my parents: Elizabeth M. Schulze and Arthur Robert Schulze 1912-1988
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Before a polio vaccine was developed, polio killed or crippled thousands of people each year.
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