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June Almeida, Virus Detective!

The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus

From an early age in Glasgow, Scotland, June Almeida loved learning about science and nature. A good student, she was especially interested in biology and won the top science prize at her school. Creative and observant, June noticed details that others often missed. She dreamed of attending university but economic hardships caused her to leave school at age 16. Still, June was determined to pursue her passion for science. She was hired by a local hospital to work in its lab, using a microscope to magnify and examine cells. Her work helped doctors treat patients. June later worked in labs in London and in Toronto. Her skill in using the electron microscope to examine cells and help identify viruses earned her promotion and respect in the science community. When June was 34 years old, she discovered the first human coronavirus. Her groundbreaking work continues to help researchers today in the fight against illnesses caused by viruses, including COVID-19.

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$16.99 $16.99
$28.99 $28.99
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 2
Dewey 579.2092 B
Lexile
ATOS Reading Level
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781534111325), PDF (9781534178977), Hosted ebook (9781534179127)
Copyright 2021
Number of Pages 40
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations

Publishers Weekly - June Almeida, Virus Detective!: The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus

“Paganelli contributes softly colored art with sketchlike textures and backgrounds that portray viruses, antibodies, and their ilk. An adept profile of a lesser-known scientific luminary. Ages 6–10. (Mar.)”

Kirkus Reviews - June Almeida, Virus Detective!: The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus

Profiles a virologist who was among the first to photograph and identify the coronavirus family.

Almeida’s own family has a significant presence in this account of her career and discoveries. Slade begins with her Glasgow-born subject’s early love of science and the death of her little brother, continues through marriage, divorce, and single parenting to track her growing reputation for expertise in microphotography and electron microscopy, then highlights the watershed human coronavirus paper she co-authored in 1967. A specific description of how she used “negative staining” to prepare her coronavirus specimens adds a laudatory glimpse of technical detail to the plain-language explanations of her discoveries. Incorporating memories and material supplied by the researcher’s daughter, the author of A Computer Called Katherine (illustrated by Veronica Miller Jameson, 2019) presents another underrecognized woman scientist as a role model. In this case, Almeida is not seen as a crusader breaking down barriers of race (she was White) and sexism but more generally as a smart, hard worker doing her best in both private and professional lives. If her character remains hard to pin down, a bit of verse preceding the expansive afterword (“Virus, Virus, shining bright / In the phosphotungstic night”) hints at a sense of humor. Single scientists of color in two group scenes are the only non-White figures in Paganelli’s clean, precisely drawn cartoon illustrations.

This indisputably timely book makes a solid case for greater recognition.

Author: Suzanne Slade

As a girl, Suzanne Slade spent her summers at Tippecanoe Lake in Indiana where she enjoyed watching many tadpoles, turtles, and beautiful butterflies. A geek at heart, Suzanne is the award-winning author of dozens of nature and science books. Her latest picture book, The Inventor’s Secret, is a 2016 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book. Suzanne lives in Libertyville, Illinois.

Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli

  • Beginning of Text
  • More About June
  • June Almeida Timeline
  • Selected Bibliography