Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
By Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks
Illustrated by Colin Bootman
Vivien Thomas’s greatest dream was to attend college to study medicine. But after the stock market crashed in 1929, Vivien lost all his savings. Then he heard about a job opening at the Vanderbilt University medical school under the supervision of Dr. Alfred Blalock. Vivien knew that the all-white school would never admit him as a student, but he hoped working there meant he was getting closer to his dream.
As Dr. Blalock’s research assistant, Vivien learned surgical techniques. In 1943, Vivien was asked to help Dr. Helen Taussig find a cure for children with a specific heart defect. After months of experimenting, Vivien developed a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child. Afterward, Dr. Blalock and Dr. Taussig announced their innovative new surgical technique, the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Vivien’s name did not appear in the report.
Overcoming racism and resistance from his colleagues, Vivien ushered in a new era of medicine—children’s heart surgery. This book is the compelling story of this incredible pioneer in medicine.
About the Creators
was born in Savannah, Georgia. Her father was in the Air Force, so Gwen and her family moved a lot when she was a child. Her first stop in every new city was the local library where she got her new library card. Gwendolyn is the author of many books, including Bebop Books’ Can I Have a Pet? and Lee & Low's Tiny Stitches. Gwen now lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and their three children. Visit her online at gwendolynhooks.com.
has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Almost to Freedom, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor Book. Bootman grew up in Trinidad and the United States. Much of his artwork portrays the rich diversity of experiences among people of African descent. In addition to creating illustrations for books and periodicals, Bootman enjoys teaching students and young artists. He lives in Texas, and can be found on the Web at colinbootman.net.
About This Title
NAACP Image Award Winner
Lasting Connection Title
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
California Reading Association
Top Ten Science and Health Books for Youth
Best Books for Kids
New York Public Library
Interest Level:Grades 2 - 8
Reading Level:Grades 4 - 5
African/African American Interest, Biography/Memoir, Civil Rights Movement, Courage, Cultural Diversity, Discrimination, Dreams & Aspirations, Heroism, History, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Informational Text, Kindness/Caring, Leadership, Mentors, Nonfiction, Overcoming Obstacles, Persistence/Grit, Pride, Respect/Citizenship
Part of These Collections
Nonfiction Grades 3-6, Nonfiction Collection Middle School, African American English Collection Middle School, Black History Collection, Grades 3-6, African American English Collection Grades 3-6, Black History Collection, Grades 7-12, Biography and Memoir Grades 3-6, Biography and Memoir Middle School, Back to School Collection Grades 3-5, 2016 Book Collection, Respect and Self-Respect Collection, Persistence and Determination Collection, Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 6-8, Pedro Noguera Reluctant Readers Collection , #OwnVoices Collection, Grit & Perseverance Collection, Social and Emotional Learning Collection, Social Activism Collection, Social Activism Collection Grades 6-8 Black History Month Bestselling Books Collection,