Tompkins Weekly

Award-winning author to visit library



Gail Jarrow, a local award-winning author known for her nonfiction books. The themes in Jarrow’s book blend history and science to teach others about diseases and more. Photo provided. Photo provided

An award-winning author will visit Newfield next week to talk about writing and her books at Newfield Public Library.

Gail Jarrow, who lives in Ithaca, will be in Newfield on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to talk about her books and writing for young readers.

Jarrow’s books explore themes of science and history, including her titles  “Bubonic Plague: When Plague Invaded America,” “Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary” and “Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat. These books make up a series that Jarrow has called “The Deadly Disease Trilogy.”

Inspired by her career background in science and education, Jarrow decided to make a career out of writing nonfiction articles and books.

Newfield Notes
By Michael Lindgren

“I got into [writing] because of my background in zoology, and for a few years I taught middle school,” Jarrow said. “When I began writing, I had a great interest in science education, so my earliest work was magazine articles in kids’ science, but, you know, I branched out.”

Goodreads has described one of her books, “The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in Our Food and Drugs,” by stating, “Acclaimed nonfiction and Sibert Honor-winning author Gail Jarrow uncovers this intriguing history in her trademark style that makes the past enthrallingly relevant for today’s young readers.”

In her writing, Jarrow often combines two topics that interest her. She seeks out stories that are less known and deserve to be told.

“I was always interested in the biological sciences and medicine and I also really love history,” Jarrow said, “so I’ve combined them and tried to pick topics that I think would be interesting and topics that are little-known stories.”

Jarrow mainly writes for younger audiences ages 10 and up, but everyone can enjoy her books. Writing for young audiences poses some specific challenges. Jarrow sifts through historical, medical and scientific documents and tries to make the information a palatable reading experience for her audience.

“A big thing I have to do is adjust the information I have to write down so that [readers] can understand the topics I’m talking about,” she said.

According to Jarrow, a Newfield resident reached out to her, telling her that he had enjoyed one of her books, so Jarrow decided to come to the Newfield Public Library to talk about her medical fiasco series “Deadly Disease Trilogy” and share about her writing career.

Jarrow’s newest book, “American Murder: The Parasite That Infected the South,” details a plague of hookworms that infected Southern America and affected the lives of millions in the 1900s.

“[Hookworms] make you sick, and it can kill you if you have enough of these parasites inside you,” said Jarrow. “Not many people know about this. We’re talking about your early 1900s and millions of people in the South. … That’s the kind of thing I write about.”

More information about hookworms in the southern U.S. can be found on Jarrow’s blog, located on her website. 

Jarrow also expressed her appreciation for Newfield Public Library and libraries in general for the opportunities they offer for people to read books and more importantly, to learn.

“It’s great to be able to go and speak to people at the library. Libraries are so important to the community,” Jarrow said.

Jarrow is an accomplished writer with numerous accolades, as her website details: “Her books for young readers have earned the Winner of the Excellence in Nonfiction Award from YALSA-ALA; the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award; Orbis Pictus Honor; Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award; the Jefferson Cup; Grateful American Book Prize Honor; Golden Kite Honor for NF for Older Readers; Eureka! Gold Award; ALA Notable Book; Notable Social Studies Trade Book; the National Science Teaching Association Outstanding Science Trade Book and Best STEM Book, Best Books awards from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Bank Street College of Education, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and NPR. She has received additional awards and recognition from the American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Public Library Association, the Society of School Librarians International, and Junior Library Guild.”

For more events at Newfield Public Library, visit the Newfield Public Library’s website.

In Brief:

Newfield History and Activity Center hours

The Newfield History and Activity Center will be open Saturday, Sept. 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Coming up at the library

Yoga For Beginners will be held at Newfield Public Library Saturday, Sept. 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The event will be hosted by Phyllis KuanYin Chi and is suitable for beginners and those with mobility issues.

Family Story Time will be held at Newfield Public Library Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The event includes stories, songs and more for infants through age 5.

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