Friday 17 June 2016

Pandemic: Spanish flu 1918 by Sally Stone

Pandemic: Spanish flu 1918 by Sally Stone (Scholastic, 2012; part of My New Zealand story series)

159 pages, written in the form of diary entries

Subjects: World War One, influenza, armistice, New Zealand, junior fiction (Year 5-8)

This book follows the fictional diary format of the My New Zealand story series. Eleven-year-old Freda Rose starts her diary after a falling-out with her best friend Pearl. She lives with her parents and grandmother on a farm and her older brother Bobby is serving overseas as a stretcher-bearer in World War One.

The story is primarily about the influenza epidemic, but I’ve included it here as the epidemic was so closely linked with the war and the armistice celebrations, and because Freda’s diary also describes the homecoming of her brother Bobby, and how they all (Bobby included) struggle to cope with how changed he is.

There is a short historical note at the back, a description of what to do in a pandemic and some historical photos.

Bob Docherty in his invaluable Bobs book blog says that the author "gives an excellent portrait of life in these times that will astound today’s kids". 

Teacher notes are provided here

About the author
The Scholastic blurb says that Sally Stone lives in Queenstown with her husband and three children. This is her first book with Scholastic; she has previously written school journals for Learning Media.

Other books you might like:
Black November by Geoffrey Rice (Canterbury University Press, 2005) provides the most comprehensive coverage of the influenza epidemic in New Zealand.

My book Armistice Day also includes a section on the influenza epidemic. 

Things I didn’t know
I did know this, but I always forget the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic. 
So here's a definition from Info please: An epidemic occurs when a disease affects a greater number people than is usual for the locality or one that spreads to areas not usually associated with the disease. A pandemic is an epidemic of world-wide proportions.
Excellent info and photos of the 1918 influenza pandemic here on the NZ history site. 
And also on the Christchurch city libraries site and Te ara.

There's an amazing story on Puke ariki about a four year old boy from Inglewood who survived by chance when it was discovered in the morgue that he was still breathing.

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