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I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures    by Carlyn Beccia order for
I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat
by Carlyn Beccia
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2010 (2010)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This is a brilliant and unique concept for a children's book. I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat traces the history of early medicine and home remedies for common ailments, but does so in a very child-centric way. The book is arranged by ailment, and poses the question: Did any of these cures help?

For example, would a cure for a sore throat be: a frog down the throat, a necklace made from earthworms, or a dirty sock tied around the neck? On the following page, the author discusses each of them in an informative, easy to follow manner, along with the country and time period of origin.

Another example: if I lived in the Early Middle Ages in Persia and had a wound, it's possible someone would have tried to cure me with mummy powder, even though it didn't work:

'Mummy powder did not cure wounds, and in some cases it also spread diseases. Yet even though it didn't work, doctors applied mummy powder to wounds for centuries. This cure was prescribed so often that real Egyptian mummies became scarce. To stay in business, mummy sellers were forced to grind up their grandmas or any dead person they could find.'

The book is chock full of information like this, some of it admittedly gross, says the author in the preface, but still fascinating. Maybe it takes a strong stomach and delightful imagination to appreciate, but I think most kids, and even most adults, would get a kick out of this well-researched and humorous book. I know I was heartened to see that chicken soup is an old and proven method of curing the common cold, and that mother's kisses are a recognized cure for everything!

Rounding out the text are superb illustrations that are charming and funny (a frog poking out of a bowl of soup, a skunk sniffing a bottle of skunk oil, a group of puppies licking the wound off an ancient Greek boy, etc.). The author deserves a great big kudos for producing such a terrific book.

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