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Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

By Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks
Illustrated by Colin Bootman

Hardcover: $18.95

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

Thumb_gwendolyn_hooks_photo_small Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks - Author

GWENDOLYN HOOKS is the author of Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, which received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children. Thanks to her Air Force dad, she grew up in Texas and Washington in the United States, and in Italy. After teaching middle school math, Hooks decided to follow her passion and write books for children. Hooks lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband. Please visit her website at gwendolynhooks.com.

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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.