Invisible Allies: Microbes That Shape Our Lives (Paperback)

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Mmm-mmm, microbes!

Although we are accustomed to equating the presence of microbes with disease, in fact most microbes play a vital "friendly" role in shaping our lives. It is not just that one hundred million microbes can populate a thimbleful of fertile soil, or that many millions live happily in as much of our saliva. Microbes are everywhere, and we could not survive without them. In this updated second edition of her acclaimed book, Jeanette Farrell considers the invisible bugs essential to an everyday event: the eating of a light lunch consisting of a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar. Microbes create such a lunch, digest it, and, through the alchemy of decomposition, transform it so that the cycle can start all over again. In the course of her eye-opening narrative, Dr. Farrell relates the historical significance of using microbes to preserve foods, our long-standing ambivalence about the microbes that live on and in us, and our growing understanding of their importance.

Interspersed with fascinating anecdotes and illustrations, Invisible Allies will transform the reader's perception of the microcosmic world—around and inside us.

Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Horn Book Fanfare Best Books List
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book

About the Author

Jeanette Farrell, as a girl, worked on weekends at a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kentucky founded by her father. After graduating from college, she volunteered for a leprosy relief agency in India. She now works as a doctor in Seattle, Washington, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of Invisible Allies and Invisible Enemies.

Praise For…

“Farrell brings an engaged and thoughtful approach to her subject . . . There's enough sheer fascination in Farrell's account of the teeming microscopic world to attract general-interest gawkers, who may find more interest in science than they had expected.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

“Farrell offers intriguing insights into human dependence on microbes . . . Informative. Nearly all nonfiction readers will connect with this enjoyable introduction to microbes, whether they think they’re interested in science or not.” —Horn Book, 2005 edition, starred review

“A fascinating, broad ranging, and imminently readable book on the beneficial roles of microbes . . . Without talking down to her audience or hyping the grosser aspects of the subject, Farrell presents what is known about beneficial microbes and acknowledges the ongoing study of these amazing life-forms.” —Booklist, starred review

“This page-turner will persuade young readers, if not to love the microbes in which we are all more or less immersed, at least to appreciate them.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Students who will not read anything might well be hooked by this one. Its use in the classroom is easily applicable in a science, history, or foods class. This book is science for youth at its best and a must-have. One might hope there are more books to come from this author.” —VOYA, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250057044
ISBN-10: 1250057043
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: December 31st, 2039
Pages: 176
Language: English