________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 18 . . . . May 11, 2001

cover The Doctor & You.

Diane Swanson.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press (Distributed by Firefly Books), 2001.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-672-1 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-673-X (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Medicine-Juvenile literature.
Physicians-Juvenile literature.

Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.

Review by Cora Lee.

***1/2 /4

image What is it about a visit to the doctor that inspires such dread? For most people, especially small children, it's the unknown, and Diane Swanson doesn't lose sight of that for a minute. Her book, The Doctor and You, is a reassuring look at typical procedures and instruments in the doctor's office. Talking directly to her readers in a lively, conversational style, Swanson soon downgrades the Big Visit to no big deal at all.

      A master of non-fiction for children, the award-winning Swanson anticipates every question, every reaction. A sidebar recurring with every procedure voices the fear, does it hurt? She answers honestly, even when the answer is yes, thus ensuring her audience's trust for the future. She keeps the content simple, focusing on the reason for and the steps to expect with each procedure. When she does encounter the need for additional background, she uses concepts that kids grasp easily. Reflexes are easy to understand, for example, once you know that your body is "wired" with nerves, like your TV or fridge.

      An assortment of curious assurances -- curious to grownups, that is -- demonstrates her uncommon empathy with children. "But [x-rays] can't see any of your thoughts, feelings or secrets," she says. And of taking blood, she reassures, "Don't worry: blood won't keep leaking out, and your body soon makes more blood to replace what was removed." Swanson understands, too, that fear diminishes with control, and supplies a sidebar entitled "Your Job" to give readers an active role in each procedure.

      A presentation made lively through colour, typography and layout takes the serious edge off a topic of obvious significance to children. A double-page spread is given over to each procedure: measuring height and weight; checking reflexes; examining eyes, ears, and throat; listening to heart sounds; measuring blood pressure; drawing blood for tests; taking x-rays and giving vaccinations.

      Each topic is a mini-article, self-contained for easy access to whatever single topic is most relevant. The real-life, full-colour photographs of the doctor in action allow children to find comfort in the familiar. Once in their doctors' offices, children will recognize both the instruments and the procedures from the book and should remember the smiling faces as well.

      The set of mini-articles is flanked by a table of contents at one end, an index at the other. While a table of contents alone seems sufficient for so short a book, including the index was a wise choice; titles such as "Hugs that Help," or "A Lot in a Little" are catchy, but not necessarily explicit. Together with some helpful in-text pronunciation guides for the more difficult words, these elements make the book extremely easy for young readers to use. Parents, too, will find this book useful. A short section for parents gives tips for making the prospect of a visit less scary. Only one group has cause to complain, and they, only faint cause: for while the book has a bit too much information for non-readers -- who probably need the most help -- their parents will still find the book a remarkable resource.


Cora Lee, a Vancouver writer and editor, is also the BC regional officer for the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364