The newest book in the WWII Dog series that I’m writing for Scholastic is Liberty (due out October 11) , which features Fish Elliott who had been stricken by polio at about age five. In 1952, one of the worst years for polio here in the states, nearly 58,000 people were afflicted. Sadly, Salk’s polio vaccine was not available until 1955.
Kids today, at least in this country, don’t have to worry about getting polio. But it was a huge concern for families in the 30s and 40s and early 50s. While doing research for Liberty, I read several memoirs written by people who had gotten polio as kids; Fish’s experience with riding a bicycle is inspired by an actual event recorded in one of those memoirs.
My favorite of such texts, however, will always be Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. The author of this book, Peg Kehret, is one of the kindest and most generous women in the world of children’s literature and I was blessed to have her for a writing mentor early in my career.