Kati’s Tiny Messengers

Dr. Katalin Kariko and the battle against Covid 19

Written by Megan Hoyt, Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger

Kati’s Tiny Messengers is the real-life story of Dr. Katalin Kariko, the Hungarian-born scientist who developed the mRNA vaccine for COVID-19. Born in 1955 in a house with no running water, Kati grew up loving science, with a passion for how the human body works. In college, she wanted to study all the possibilities of mRNA, the ribonucleic acid that can tell the body to fight viruses. Kati’s research set out to prove this from the very beginning, but many people thought that was more science fiction than fact. When money ran out at her university, Kati and her husband decided the best place to continue her research would be the United States. Sewing all their savings into their daughter’s teddy bear, Kati and her family moved to Philadelphia, where she met Dr. Drew Weissman. He noticed her careful notes, precise measurements, and perfect data. They teamed up to study mRNA together.

When Covid hit in 2020, Kati’s work was suddenly at the center of discussion. But her 35 years of experience and research made her the perfect scientist to find a breakthrough. Working around the clock, Kati’s team had a vaccine ready almost overnight, but it would take months before her theory was proven correct – an mRNA vaccine could teach a cell to fight the COVID virus.

There are a lot of reasons to love this book, but the one that stands out is how relevant and current it is for students. We have a lot of books about women in history, but this is history happening right now. And even more interesting, past the publication date of this book, Dr. Kariko and Dr. Weismann won the 2023 Nobel Prize in medicine. It would go perfectly with topics of perseverance, dedication, education, women in STEM, and COVID. This book is a great way to explain to students the science behind the vaccine, especially during Women’s History month.

Reviewed by Andrea LeBaron, Librarian, Upland Terrace Elementary
Review shared in March 2024
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 2-8

Kati’s Tiny Messengers: Dr. Katalin Kariko and the Battle Against COVID-19
Written by Megan Hoyt, Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger
Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
40 pages
Release Date: October 3, 2023
ISBN: 9780063216624
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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