Calkins Creek, 2015, ages 10 to adult
ISBN   hardcover  978-1-59078-732-8    ebook ISBN  978-1-62979-215-6

Part of the Deadly Diseases Trilogy  

Gail's blog about writing the Deadly Diseases Trilogy--"The Mysterious, the Surprising, and the Gruesome."



The year is 1902. A life-threatening disease called pellagra suddenly breaks out in the United States—“one of the most horrible, pitiful afflictions mankind has ever suffered.” American doctors have never seen it before. They don’t know how to treat or cure it. Even though the disease has struck down people in Europe for at least two centuries, the doctors there don’t have any answers either. Pellagra is a 200-year-old medical mystery.

This is the story of the physicians, researchers, and public health officials who struggled to stop America’s devastating epidemic. The quest involves orphans, dogs, and filth parties. It is marked by dead-ends, false clues, and tragedies. Before the scientific detectives finally succeed in solving this challenging mystery, panic grips the South as more than 3,000,000 people fall ill and tens of thousands die.

Illustrated with dozens of vivid archival photographs, RED MADNESS includes true accounts of pellagra victims and the researchers who fought to save them.

What Reviewers Say:

Jefferson Cup for Older Readers 2015—Virginia Library Association
Excellence in Nonfiction Award Nominee 2015—YALSA-ALA
Best Books of 2014—School Library Journal
Best STEM Books 2017—National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Book Council
Best Children’s Books of the Year, Science—Bank Street College of Education
CCBC Choices for 2015—Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens 2015—Capitol Choices
Best Informational Books for Older Readers of 2014—Chicago Public Library
Cream of the Crop, 2015—Maine State Library
Best New Teen Books of 2014—Nebraska Library Commission
Top-selected title — Kansas State Reading Circle Commission
2014 Nerdy Awards for MG/YA Nonfiction
Best Kids’ Science Books of 2014—Scientists’ Bookshelf
Great Books for Children and Young Adults 2014—The Booklist Reader
Junior Library Guild Selection
Charlotte Award Final Ballot 2016—NY State Reading Association
Starred Review, School Library Journal
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
Recommended, National Science Teachers Association
Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“The attractive, red-highlighted design, lively narrative and compelling subject matter will resonate with readers.” ~Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“This title is descriptive and well researched, with a striking bold-red color scheme….This is an excellent addition to nonfiction collections in school and public libraries.” ~School Library Journal, Starred Review

“The author’s extensive research turns up personal stories within the story…These individual accounts create an urgent backdrop of suffering and death for the story of the epidemiological quest to find a cause and cure.” ~Publishers Weekly

“This captivating book reads like a detective story…The author’s impeccable research is revealed in the many case histories that portray the suffering people and their lives in vivid word pictures. The story is a wonderful example of how a scientific puzzle is solved. ~National Science Teachers Association Recommended

“Jarrow intersperses plenty of brief case histories and poignant photographs of sufferers throughout the text to keep the human interest angle as compelling as the medical mystery.” ~Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Recommended

“While the book’s main subject is epidemiological, it is also a case study on innumerable social issues of the day…A visually dramatic medical mystery, this is cross-curricular and of high interest.” ~Booklist