I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat:  History’s Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia is one of those books that my girls devouredIt’s a long-ish picture book, 48 pages in length, with an interesting format that sort of drives me nuts to try to read aloud.  Read it aloud I did, however, mostly at Louise’s vociferous insistence.  It’s set up as a serious of multiple choice questions.  Here’s the first one:

History’s Strangest Cures for Coughs

Did any of these cures help?

Below the question are three oval filled with appropriate illustrations for the following choices:

A.  Caterpillar fungus  B.  Frog soup  C.  Cherry bark

On the next three pages we learn whether or not each of these three “cures” will actually cure a cough (or anything else). Reading on in the book will enlighten you to various and sundry other “cures,” including puke weed for a cold, maggots for a wound, and urine for a stomachache.  (The one my girls couldn’t get over, for some reason, is that silver was once used to cure wounds, and that yes, as newborns, they indeed had silver nitrate drops put in their eyes.  I think they were envisioning my silver jewelry or coins or something.)

As I said, this is a great format for this book, just not a format I prefer as a read-aloud.  However, this in no way prevented my children from being morbidly curious about this book and its contents for several days.  Carlyn Beccia‘s illustrations are very interesting and colorful, and they manage to just keep the some of the “cures” from being vomit-inducing.  (The maggots are awfully cute, with their napkins tied around their necks, and wielding their forks and knives as they wait to feast on the open wound.)  You can see some of the illustrations on Beccia‘s website (this book is sample set 2).  I believe she is a digital illustrator, which is a medium that I am only beginning to fully appreciate, having begun a very tentative foray into digital scrapbooking myself.

Carlyn Beccia is a new-to-me author/illustrator, but if this book is any indication of how her take on history can captivate my girls, I’ll definitely have to look for her other titles.  We three picture book connoisseurs at the House of Hope give this one a Highly Recommended!  (Houghton Mifflin, 2010)

Related links:

Carlyn Beccia website

The Raucous Royals–Carlyn Beccia’s history blog (no longer updated, but it looks interesting)

The Ballyhoo–Carlyn Beccia’s painting blog

Review at Jean Little Library (round 1 Cybils panelist)

This book has been nominated in the nonfiction picture book category for the 2012 Cybils.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted this week at Gathering Books.


7 thoughts on “I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia

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  2. Alice@Supratentorial

    This looks great! I’ve been wanting to read it from the Cybils list but our library doesn’t have it. Maybe next Amazon order…

    You can tell your girls that we still use silver nitrate. I use it quite frequently on newborn umbilical granulomas (when the umbilical cord falls off a little too early and leaves some extra tissue). A silver compound is also the active ingredient in Silvadene, an ointment used frequently on burn patients.

    Some other old cures are making a comeback. Leeches are used now fairly frequently in plastic surgery…they increase the bloodflow and have natural anticoagulant properties. They are usually used in reattaching a limb. I had a patient in residency where one of my jobs was to change the leeches daily. :)

    Reply
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