I did, in fact, finish Natalie Kinsey-Warnock’s A Doctor Like Papa on New Year’s Day, but don’t be overly impressed–its 73 pages include several full-page illustrations, and the font is definitely on the large side. (And I didn’t start it on New Year’s Day.) That said, I still really enjoyed this one. It made such a nice contrast to the last Kinsey-Warnock book I read, which was her first novel and not her best. In it, ten-year-old Margaret wants to be (surprise surprise!) a doctor like her father, but when she meets the reality of the influenza pandemic of 1918, she begins to wonder if she’s ready to make the necessary sacrifices. How she proves that she is completes a satisfying tale for young readers that is just poignant enough for its intended audience.
I generally prefer to read historical fiction geared to an older audience for that very reason; you can only delve so deeply in a novel intended for early elementary schoolers, and I’m usually a fan of deep. At 7 1/2 months pregnant, however, I appreciated Kinsey-Warnock’s simple and age-appropriate approach to a world tragedy. (I went to see the new “Annie” with my in-laws earlier in the day, and oh! how I bawled during that first song. “Maybe they’re strict…as straight as a line. Don’t really care as long as they’re mine…” Not the best song for a pregnant woman.) She doesn’t shy away from the reality of it, but the length of the book made it emotionally manageable for me, and it ought to do the same for its target audience. The focus of the book is on the survivors and how they help each other. If you’re looking for something about this period in history for young readers, this is the book for you.
(On the other hand, if you want something for late elementary or junior high students, go for Karen Hesse’s A Time of Angels. Because it’s excellent.)