By Publishers Weekly
Vivien Thomas had long strived to become a doctor, but after losing his college savings in the stock market crash of 1929, he instead took a job as a research technician at Vanderbilt University. As an African-American, Thomas’s title was officially “janitor.” Despite persistent racial prejudice, Thomas devised a means to perform open-heart surgery on “blue babies” who were not getting enough oxygen, a procedure that would save the lives of many infants. Hooks writes with vivid detail and immediacy, describing Thomas’s anxiety as he coaches Dr. Blalock, the doctor who originally hired him, on performing the first surgery. Bootman’s subdued watercolors channel the sobering climate of Depression-era America in a sensitive portrayal of a little-recognized medical pioneer. Ages 7–12.