Virginia Wouldn’t Slow Down: The Unstoppable Dr. Apgar and Her Life-Saving Invention

Norton. Aug. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781324003939.
Gr 1-3–Many adults may be familiar with the term “Apgar Score,” but most children will be meeting Dr. Virginia Apgar, the anesthesiologist who invented the eponymous test, for the first time. Born at the turn of the 20th century, Apgar showed little interest in traditional girls’ pursuits: she was not quiet, she preferred sports over cooking, and she wore “all sorts of outfits,” including pants. Graduating near the top of her medical school class, Apgar became the second board-certified female anesthesiologist in the United States and used her training to develop a five-step newborn evaluation. Asked about her process, she outlined on the back of a scrap of paper what would become a global medical standard. Pearson uses Apgar’s determination and interests to endear her to readers, touching on her use of her sense of humor to relax and support new medical students, her passion for world travel, and other hobbies, such as hand-making string instruments. Carpenter’s illustrations capture Apgar’s energetic and playful spirit, showing a child and later, a woman, in near-constant motion. Back matter includes an author’s note, time line, and sources. End papers display an array of baby footprints.
VERDICT With a focus on Apgar as a determined woman in the medical field, and an emphasis on her as a quirky individual, this book is an excellent choice for STEM/STEAM collections.

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