Life is hard for 12-year-old Lucas. First Uncle Asa dies of consumption, then Lizy and Pa. Now Mama is sick. And Lucas is the only one left to take care of her and their Connecticut farm. By the time his neighbor tells him of a strange, new cure, it is too late-Mama has just died. Reeling with sorrow, Lucas wanders until he sees a "help wanted" sign for a doctor's apprentice. He feels better while he is helping to pull teeth, visit the sick, and bury the dead. When he discovers townspeople are dying of consumption here, too, he wants to help them. Should he try the macabre cure? Novelist for young readers, Cynthia DeFelice bases her gripping tale on actual practices of the mid-1800s to cure victims of the disease we now call tuberculosis. Narrator John McDonough will hold listeners spellbound as Lucas heroically attacks a mystery that even the adults can't solve.
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by Cynthia Rylant
"In his rich, gravelly voice John McDonough narrates the story of 12-year-old orphan, Lucas Whitaker, who comes to apprentice with Dr. Uriah Beecher when his family is lost to consumption in the mid-1800's. McDonough's readings of the deep-voiced doctor and his brusque and officious sister are differentiated from Lucas's lighter, more tentative tones. The unhurried pace is in keeping with an era that lacked haste and allowed for the sort of rumination Lucas must undertake as he struggles to untangle the scientific and popular beliefs about the causes of disease. Middle-grade listeners will be attracted by the skull in the cover art and won't be disappointed. T.B. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine"