Understanding AIDS

Understanding AIDS

by Ethan A. Lerner

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-5 Of these two books that explain AIDS to younger children, Lerner's fact-filled and accessible title is superior. Hyde and Forsyth, authors of AIDS: What Does It Mean to You? (Walker, 1987) for teens, here attemptwith marginal successto reassure younger children that their risks of exposure to the virus are slight, and to have compassion for people with AIDS. They include no sexual information at all, so that when references are made to the use of condoms for ``safe sex,'' young readers will have no internal reference point. The writing is choppy and repetitious. The authors do explain why it is taking so long to develop a vaccine and argue effectively against mandatory testing, exclusion of AIDS victims from schools, and quarantine. One chapter, a fictionalized case study of a family who takes a child with AIDS into their home, confuses with contradictory messages. While the parents stress that there is no risk of contracting AIDS by casual contact, their actions say just the opposite. ``Just to be safe,'' they do not allow clothing or food to be shared, and the child is not permitted to swim in the family pool, promoting serious misconceptions. The bibliography is an odd assortment of nonfiction relating to blood, immunities, and drugs and fiction dealing with death, homosexuality, and hemophilia. Lerner's book, on the other hand, clearly explains the disease, including its medical and social effects, while it promotes compassion. He reassuringly outlines ``why your chances of getting AIDS are very small.'' Dark and threatening illustrations somewhat contradict this soothing tone. Some fictionalization on why there is no danger of going to school with an AIDS victim is followed by a touching chapter written from the viewpoint of the sister of a gay AIDS victim who dies. Good analogies help children visualize scientific complexities. There is a very simple explanation of homosexuality, with no negative judgment. No overt sexual terms are used except in the glossary and index. Terms in bold type are defined in the text as well as in the glossary. A resource list with two hotlines is appended. The text ends with a hopeful note on new drugs being developed, and with the recommendation of compassion for sick friends. Anne Osborn, Riverside Public Library, Calif.

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Coping with Modern Problems Series
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.66(h) x (d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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