Friday 28 July 2017

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess (1957)

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess is an inspiring and very well-written biography of Gladys Aylward, missionary to China for twenty years. In her mid-twenties she went through a probationary period at the China Inland Mission in London but was rejected on account of her lack of qualifications and the belief that at her age the Chinese language would be extremely difficult to learn. Still, Gladys felt called by God to go China and although bitterly disappointed at first, she wasn't going to let this stop her.
She was a parlourmaid and didn't earn much money so she decided upon the cheapest possible mode of transport and took herself to a travel agent to make her first payment towards a ticket. He tried to tell her that although her chosen route via the Trans-Siberian railway was the cheapest option, it wasn't possible due to a conflict between Russia and China.

"I couldn't really care about a silly old war," she had said. "It's the cheapest way, isn't it? That's what I want. Now, if you'll book me a passage, you can have this three pounds on account, and I'll pay you as much as I can every week."
"We do not," the clerk had replied, choosing his words with the pedantic care of the extremely irritated, "like to deliver our customers-dead!"
She had stared up at him. His acidulousness had no effect whatsoever. She was quite logically feminine about it all. "Oh, they won't hurt me," she said. "I'm a woman. They won't bother about me."

She set out in 1930 after paying for her ticket in full. She was thirty years old, alone, and with only one contact in China - seventy-three year old Jeannie Lawson, a widow who had stayed on in China after her husband died. Gladys had written to her and Mrs Lawson said that if she could make her way to China, Gladys could stay with her. With no financial resources or official backing, and no knowledge of the Chinese language, she left England, boarded a train at The Hague, and crossed into Siberia ten days later.
Her intention was to take the train all the way across Siberia and then board a steamer for Tientsin in China, but a brief undeclared war between China and Russia over possession of the China Eastern Railway brought her rail trip to an end near the Manchurian border.
Unable to proceed any further, her only option was to walk back along the railway track to the last town, which she did in the bitter cold and dark, camping in the open overnight, wrapped in the fur rug made by her mother out of an old coat, and using her suitcases as a windbreak while she slept. She eventually reached the town of Chita and after some misunderstandings and frightening experiences with officials, who thought that the word 'missionary' on her passport implied she worked with 'machinery' and so would be a good asset in Russia, she went on her way to Vladivostok. Here a young woman, who was a complete stranger to her, warned her to leave Russia straight away or she would never get out. The woman told her to seek passage on a Japanese ship docked at the harbour and after explaining her situation to the captain, Gladys was given free passage to Japan.
Her experiences in Russia shocked her and left her with a sense that the people were downtrodden and wretched.

'For her the cold wind which sifted through the streets carrying on its breath the desolation of Siberia epitomised Russia. She felt in her bones the bewilderment and hopelessness of so many of its people. She could not canalise her feelings into a coherent, critical appraisal; she only knew how desperately she wanted to leave this country.'

Gladys did finally arrive in China after a brief stay in Japan, and found her way to Yancheng where Mrs Lawson lived and together they opened an Inn (The Inn of Eight Happinesses) where traders stayed overnight, heard the gospel and then went on their way over the mountains to tell others.
Eight months later Mrs Lawson died and Gladys was placed a precarious position financially. She was saved from possible disaster when the local Mandarin paid her a visit and asked her to be his official 'foot inspector.' Gladys was basically given carte blanche in this position; two soldiers accompanied her on her expeditions into the countryside to ensure that the Mandarin's orders outlawing foot binding were carried out, and she used these times to spread the Gospel, becoming known and beloved by all as she did so.

These were times of great satisfaction for Gladys. She loved China and its people, learnt to speak multiple dialects fluently and fully identified with her adopted country when she became a Chinese citizen in 1936.

'...Gladys had not merely learnt the language; she had embedded herself in it like a stone in a fruit. The language had grown around her.'

In 1938 war came to China when the Japanese invaded:

'The policy of the Japanese was plain. For years they had operated their 'master' race policies in their northern colony of Korea. The Japanese were aristocrats, the Koreans serfs! No Korean was educated above an elementary  level; no Korean ever held an administrative post of any importance; they were reduced to a proletarian and peasant level and kept there. Hitler was putting the same theories into operation on the other side of the world. The same treatment was already accorded those areas of North China in the enemy's grasp.'

Some of the many highlights of the book are Gladys going into a prison, quaking in her boots, to quell a riot led by a huge man running around with a machete; leading a hundred homeless children on a twelve day march over the mountains to the Yellow River, the colourful descriptions of the China and the Chinese culture, and her relationship with the local Mandarin, who she eventually led  to Christ.
She became known by the name Ai-weh-deh, the virtuous one, and remained in China until 1947, a witness of the end of a Chinese era that lasted for forty centuries.

Japan withdrew from China in 1945 but civil war continued to rage between the Nationalists and the Reds. These were heartbreaking years for Gladys; the Communists saw Christians as enemies and maltreated and persecuted them:

'She saw the faith of her friends and converts outlawed and attacked by every moral and physical means imaginable, by a godless philosophy with its lunatic assertion that "the ends justifies the means."'

The Small Woman is a remarkable, inspiring story. I read this book years ago and so did my older children, but I'd forgotten about it until Brandy @Afterthoughts mentioned that she was thinking of using it as a devotional book for one of her children. I decided to read it again to see if it was as good as I remembered. I wasn't disappointed.

There is so much to be gained from this story, and I especially recommend it for girls around the ages of  twelve or thirteen years and up. Our young women are surrounded by a culture that encourages them to push for their rights, to smash through the 'glass ceiling,' to be the best they can be, to prove they are just as good as men and are quite capable of doing anything they can do. I don't have an issue with equality, or capability, but I've been reading in Matthew 10, which obviously applies to both male and female:

"The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life because of me will find it."

Gladys Aylward knew she had work to do and that God had called her. She went against everything her culture expected of her, not to gain recognition or to be be able to say, 'I was the first women ever to do this.' When the door to missionary work closed in her face she didn't complain that she was discriminated against but believed that God would make a way when there was no way - because she was willing to lose her life. In fact, in the midst of the upheaval of war and persecution in China, she wrote this to her family:

'Do not wish me out of this or in any way seek to get me out, for I will not be got out while this trial is on. These are my people; God has given them to me, and I will live or die with them for Him 
and His Glory.'

A word on age suitability

A few situations to be aware of, although I must say that some of them were quite powerful demonstrations of God's intervention:

Gladys spent some time serving as a 'Rescue Sister' on the docks. '...she hardly knew how they 'fell' or what she was supposed to be rescuing them from...and the drunken sailors under the blotchy yellow street lamps...were just as likely to mistake her for a prostitute and act accordingly.'

Japanese soldiers broke into the mission's women's court intent on rape, 'with struggling screaming women in various stages of undress.' The soldiers didn't succeed - I love what happened here!

A Chinese Christian was forced to watch when the Japanese set fire to his house while his wife and children were inside.

There are some good biographies on Gladys Aylward's life for younger children (that I'll write about later) but I highly recommend this one at some stage.
Out of print but available secondhand.

Linking up with Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge and Back to the Classics 2017  - Classic Set in a Place You'd Like to Visit.

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Review of AmblesideOnline Year 6 - the second time around

This is the second time we've done AO Year 6. I wrote about Benj's beefed up Year 6 here. He was 13 years of age at the time so I made a few alterations to accomodate that. Moozle is 12 years old, and although I made some modifications here and there, most of what she did followed the schedule at AmblesideOnline.
The AO Geography schedule changed during the year and as we'd already done Halliburton's Book of Marvels the year before, (see my Pinterest page for some resources I put together) this is what we actually did:

Ist Term:

The Story of David Livingstone by Vautier Golding

2nd & 3rd Term:

A Child's Geography of the Holy Land by Ann Voscamp & Toni Peckover

I've used this before & focussed mostly on the readings and mapping the various locations. Moozle also enjoyed making some of the recipes included in the book. This book meshed nicely with the study of the Ancients in Year 6.

And she started a Geography notebook:

History Tales/Biography

We stopped using Trial & Triumph a few years ago and Moozle continued with Passion for the Impossible, a Year 5 read that we didn't get to finish.
In place of Genesis, Finding Our Roots, she read the alternative AO suggestion Ben Hur.


We finished the final three chapters of History of Australia & followed AO's History schedule.
For Asian studies she read, Little Brother by Allan Baillie, which is set in Cambodia.

Australian Literature:

Golden Fiddles by Mary Grant Bruce (1928)

Natural History & Science:

We followed the AO recommendations and they were some of her favourite books.

The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson, adapted by Anne Terry White - I read this aloud, skipping the first chapter. Actually I gave her a basic outline of the evolutionary beliefs outlined in that first section and she laughed and said, "There was a big bang and all the fishes turned into men!"
It is an exceptional book in many ways but it needs some up to date explanations in places, thank you, YouTube! I made a playlist relating to the chapters here.
My Occeanography & Marine Biology Pinterest board has some other links also.
A picture of the copy I have & the table of contents:


We also made good use of The University of Nottingham's periodic videos when reading The Elements and The Mystery of the Periodic Table. Over the course of both these books Moozle wrote down the elements she learned on this free downloadable blank PDF of the Periodic Table.
(Edited to add: Interactive Periodic Table - in pictures & words)
Moozle has made regular entries into her science notebook which she started in Year 5. I wrote a post about some of her notebooks here.

I read aloud My Family & Other Animals by Gerald Durrell - some editing done on the go, but it's a fun and interesting book.

We continue to use The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock plus the following Australian titles:

Nature Studies in Australia by William Gillies & Robert Hall

This one was great when we did some nature study at the beach earlier this year:

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws - I was unsure whether to buy this book as I didn't know how much use we'd get out of it but we watched a couple of John Muir Law' videos on Youtube and they were helpful so I bought it. The book contains much that can be used wherever you live - drawing and watercolour techniques, as well as the use of other art media; observation skills, types of materials to use, working in the open & making fast and accurate field sketches; drawing landscapes. There are a few examples (some birds, a bear) that are specific to the USA, or not found here in Australia, but the methods he uses to demonstrate how to draw and journal are universal. It was definitely a good buy! Moozle has been working her way through it & has picked up many useful hints.

 Not an Aussie bird, but learning some skills with watercolour and composition...


Health: We read this book together: The Care & Keeping of You 2 

Maths:  Continuing with Saxon 76 after about five years of Singapore Maths.


We listened to a recording and read along with the script and then watched this movie. It was on Youtube but it looks like it's been removed.


We're about half way through Julius Caesar so will continue that. This life seems a bit longer than some of the others we've done but it's a good one to study especially as he's been around in a few of the Year 6 books.


At the beginning of the year we started French for Children B, published by Classical Academic Press after completing French for Children A. It's excellent.


A combination of Getting Started With Latin and Our Roman Roots by James R. Leek, an out of print curriculum I've used off and on for a number of years.


We haven't done a lot of English grammar this year as the French curriculum we're using has plenty,  and since starting French for Children, her understanding of grammar has jumped significantly. When we do cover grammar, it's with Easy Grammar Plus by Wanda C. Phillips, which I started using with Benj about eight years ago & continue to use. It's different to many other grammar programmes in that it gets students to identify prepositions & prepositional phrases before anything else & once that's done it's so much easier to identify other parts of speech.

Free Reading (besides the AO list) Books marked with an * are 'highly recommended.'

Devils' Hill by Nan Chauncy (set in Tasmania)
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne *
Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott
The Cargo of the Madalena by Cynthia Harnett
How They Kept the Faith by Grace Raymond
The Adventures of Shelock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *

These Agatha Christie novels are in the Tommy & Tuppence series:
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie*
N or M? by Agatha Christie *
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie*

The following books are by L.M. Montgomery:

Emily of New Moon *
Emily Climbs *
Emily's Quest *
Kilmeny of the Orchard

Moozle says 'Of course I'd highly recommend every Biggles book!!' *****

Biggles & the Blue Moon
Biggles and the Missing Millionaire
Biggles Takes a Hand

All the Biggles' titles above are out of print.

Friday 21 July 2017

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)

Gerald Durrell, (1925-1995) a pioneering naturalist, conservationist, and author, was born in India in 1925, the youngest of four children. Both his parents were of British descent but were also born in India, and having a limited experience of England, considered India to be their true home.
When Gerald was three years of age, his father died of a cerebral haemorrhage and his mother took the family and moved to England.
My Family and Other Animals is Gerald's account of his family's five year stay on the Greek island of Corfu.  He was ten years of age at the time, his eldest brother Larry was twenty-three; Lesley, nineteen, and Margo, eighteen.
From an early age Gerald possessed an ardent interest in the natural world and was obsessed with animals and all sorts of living creatures. During his time on Corfu he made a special study of zoology and kept a large number of various creatures as pets, much to the disgust and dismay of some of the other members of the family. My Family and Other Animals is one of the numerous books he wrote about his animal adventures and various exploits, but it is also a highly entertaining portrayal of his family and how they interacted. We enjoyed spending some time with the Durrell family as I read this book aloud although some editing was required for my 12 year old as we went.
We had a good laugh at his description of his mother's bathing costume which one of her sons said looked like 'a badly skinned whale,' and which inflated like a balloon when she went into the water...'an airship of frills and tucks.'

Mother was vague and incredibly mild for all she had to endure and tended to be dominated by her eldest son, Larry, a writer. It was he who decided the family needed to leave the miserable English climate and head for the Continent:

...Larry was designed by Providence to go through life like a small, blond firework, exploding ideas in other people's minds, and then curling up with cat-like unctuousness and refusing to take any blame for the consequences. He had become increasingly irritable as the afternoon wore on. At length, glancing moodily round the room, he decided to attack Mother, as being the obvious cause of the trouble.
'Why do we stand this bloody climate?' he asked suddenly, making a gesture towards the rain-distorted window. 'Look at it! And if it comes to that, look at us...Margo swollen up like a plate of scarlet porridge...Leslie wandering around with fourteen fathoms of cotton wool in each ear...Gerry sounds as though he's had a cleft palate from birth...And look at you: you're looking more decrepit and hag-ridden every day.'
Mother peered over the top of a large volume entitled Easy Recipes from Rajputana.
'Indeed I'm not,' she said indignantly.
'You are,' Larry insisted; 'you're beginning to look like an Irish washerwoman...and your family looks like a series of illustrations from a medical encyclopedia.'

Life sounded pretty idyllic for Gerry, and his naturalist bent had plenty of scope with scorpions, toads, snakes, various birds, bats, butterflies, geckos, sea creatures, tortoises and porpoises making their appearance during his stay on the island.  His education was conducted at home by various interesting & eccentric tutors. One of them, Peter, was more interested in Gerald's sister, Margo, than in his young charge, but I thought this description of the tutor's own education on the island was delightful:

'With the summer came Peter to tutor me, a tall, handsome young man, fresh from Oxford, with decided ideas on education which I found rather trying to begin with. But gradually the atmosphere of the island worked its way insidiously under his skin, and he relaxed and became quite human. At first the lessons were painful to an extreme: interminable wrestling with fractions and percentages, geological strata and warm currents, nouns, verbs, and adverbs. But, as the sunshine worked its magic on Peter, the fractions and percentages no longer seemed to him an overwhelmingly important part of life and they were gradually pushed more and more into the background; he discovered that the intricacies of geological strata and the effects of warm currents could be explained much more easily while swinmming along the coast, while the simplest way of teaching me English was to allow me to write something each day which he would correct.'

Durrell had a way with similes. These are a few that took our fancy:

'The plane, like a cumbersome overweight goose, flew over the olive-groves, sinking lower and lower.'

'...the three dogs hung out their pink tongues and panted like ancient, miniature railway engines.'

'The Magenpies had been through the room as thoroughly as any Secret Service agent searching for missing plans. Piles of manuscript and typing paper lay scattered about the floor like drifts of autumn leaves...The Magenpies could never resist paper. The typewriter stood stolidly on the table, looking like a disembowelled horse in a bull ring...'

'Then came Mother, wearing an enormous straw hat, which made her look like an animated mushroom...'

'They squatted there like two obese, leprous Buddhas, peering at me and gulping in the guilty way that toads have.'

One day, Mr Kralefsky, one of Gerald's tutors, informed Mother that he had taught Gerald as much as he was able and the time had come for him to go somewhere like England or Switzerland to finish his education:

'In desperation I argued against any such idea; I said I liked being half-educated; you were so much more surprised at everything when you were ignorant.'

Mother was adamant and so the family returned to England with the words of a border official, 'One travelling Circus and Staff' written on their 'Desription of Passengers' document.

Linking to Back to the Classics 2017, Classic about an Animal and The Classics Club 

Saturday 15 July 2017

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-Li Jiang (1997)

Red Scarf Girl is a young girl's account of her life between the age of 12 to 14 years during the Cultural Revolution which began in 1966 when she was in the sixth grade. Up until then, Ji Li Jiang had lived a comfortable and happy family life in Shanghai. She excelled in her school studies and athletics, and was looking forward to a bright future.
Almost overnight, her way of life fell apart, and she was faced with choices that were totally confusing to a young girl. Ji-Li later became one of those now known as the 'lost generation,' an entire group of young people who were separated from their families and forced to forfeit their education when they were sent into the countryside to perform manual labour.

'After ten years of sacrifice in the primitive countryside most of these young people returned to the city with little education, few skills, and no beliefs. All regretted the waste of their youth, and all have struggled to start over again.'

Mao Ze-dong had led the Communist Party since 1949, but when his economic measures proved to be calamitous for the country and his rivals began to be more powerful, he implemented the Cultural Revolution or 'The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution' to re-establish his authority.
For ten years this policy produced absolute chaos and social upheaval as masses of young people were mobilised into Red Guards who waged war against the "four olds” - old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas.
This is the true story of the impossible dilemmas Ji Li and her family faced as a result of Mao's policy, told simply with a child-like innocence and transparency.
For Ji-Li and others like her, Chairman Mao was God. It wasn't until Mao died that they realised they had been brainwashed and that the Cultural Revolution was basically a power struggle and they had been manipulated.
I've read numerous books on this time period but this is the first one I've read through a young girl's eyes. It doesn't go into great detail about the atrocities committed during this time period, but it does give a very personal account of what the author and her family and friends went through, including her father's imprisonment, beatings, humiliations, and the suicide of an elderly neighbour who threw herself out of a window.
At one point she describes how she thought that she didn't want to live but she had promised her mother that she would take care of her younger siblings if anything happened. She came to a point where her goals didn't matter to her and seemed unimportant:

'Now my life was defined by my responsibilities. I had promised to take care if my family, and I would renew that promise every day. I would not give up or withdraw, no matter how hard life became. I would hide my tears and my fear for Mom and Grandma's sake. It was my turn to take care of them.'

It's a little difficult but to know what age range it would be best for, partly because of the way it's written, (i.e. in a young girl's voice) but I think about age 13 or 14 years and up. The effect of the advent of the Red Guards on the school students would make for a valuable discussion, with bullies, troublemakers and lazy students gaining the advantage over the conscientious and those who were considered to be from a 'bad class' - Ji-Li's grandfather was a landlord, so that put her family in that category. Power was placed into the hands of those most unfitted for it.
It is frightening to read about how easily someone could have been accused of being an enemy of the people just because of jealousy, how a stray word could lead inadvertently to betrayal, and how the youth were manipulated and so quickly rejected their respect for older people that was inherent in the Chinese culture.
A simple but powerful story. 285 pages.

Thursday 6 July 2017

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

For many years scientists had been trying to grow human cells outside of the human body in order to have a continuous (immortal) line of cells that would constantly replenish and that could be used to study any number of things,  especially viruses. Mouse cells had been cultured successfully, but every attempt to culture human cells had failed.
That was, up until 1951. That year, Henrietta Lacks, a 30 year old black mother of five young children, was admitted to the coloured ward of John Hopkins Hospital to have a biopsy of her cervix. A sample of tissue from her cervix was sent to George Gey, the head of tissue culture research at Hopkins.
At that time, if doctors wanted to use tissue from patients for purely research purposes, patient consent was not required, although it is now.
Henrietta Lack's tumour cells were put into culture and they didn't merely survive, but grew like nothing else had before.
The tumour turned out to be a very aggressive form of cervical cancer, and before long, millions of the cells had reproduced themselves in the laboratory. Gey and his assistants had grown the first immortal human cells which they named 'HeLa,' for Henrietta and Lacks. These cells became one of the most important tools in medicine and have been used in the development of the polio vaccine, in gene mapping, cloning, cancer research, and researching the effects of zero gravity and radiation on the human body.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a real page turner of a book and quite fascinating generally.
Rebecca Skloot is a journalist, which partly explains the readability of her book, and also the style in which she writes the story. To me this was both positive and negative. Positive, in that the scientific concepts were explained well enough for a lay person to understand and in a narrative style; negative, where the author injected certain incidents, such as the abuse of Henrietta's children by family members after she died, and other intimate family details, throughout the book.
I wondered whether this was really necessary, but an important aspect of this book is the recognition that behind all the science and research, there are real people. The author certainly portrayed this well.

I'm not American, so I didn't come to this book with any personal background experience of USA race relationships or much knowledge of the history and implications of segregation, therefore my reactions to this book are as an outsider looking in.
I had the impression at times that the culture of Henrietta Lacks' cells and the subsequent profits derived from their use (that the family never benefited from) was blamed for everything that went wrong with the Lacks family afterwards, but there was some serious dysfunction in the family before Henrietta ever went to hospital.
It was tragic that five young children lost their mother, but she had fairly advanced cervical cancer by the time she presented to John Hopkins' Hospital, and the treatment of cervical cancer wasn't clear cut at the time. She had the standard treatment of the time: radium and X-ray therapy. (See my comments on Cancer Ward, set in the 1950's.)
The author reveals scientific research that went beyond the bounds of decency, although not in Henrietta's case: research using cancer cells perpetrated upon unsuspecting black patients (see the infamous Tuskegee Study) that were likened to the Nazi experiments of WWII. Prison inmates were used as human guinea pigs, and the conditions of the 'Negro' mental institution where Henrietta's eldest girl was sent before her mother died were disgusting. Were other mental institutions at the time any better? I don't know.

There were also privacy concerns raised by the family. Henrietta's medical records were released without their consent, and blood was taken from various family members for research purposes without full disclosure. In fact, the family had no idea what was happening.

Henrietta's family were uneducated and ignorant of science so when they found out that her cells were 'alive' it was very confusing for them and this misunderstanding caused them a lot of unnecessary anguish. They thought that parts of her were still alive and that she could feel pain when experiments were performed on her cells.
The family also wondered, if Henrietta had been so important to medicine and scientists were buying her cells, why couldn't the family afford health insurance?
This is one of those areas where science leapt ahead before the ethics had been worked out. And this still happens.
The author included a very informative afterword that addresses tissue research and patient rights at the time the book was first printed in 2009, and gives examples of other individuals who took action against medical practitioners who profited by the sale of their patients tissues.
Cell research is vital. It needs to be done ethically and in an informed manner, but what a huge can of worms we've opened up!

Some other thoughts:

Henrietta Lacks was an uneducated woman from an impoverished background and like most black patients at the time, she only went to hospital when she thought had no other choice. As I mentioned above, there had been some very unethical research conducted at the Tuskegee Institute, and other incidents, that generated suspicion of the medical profession amongst black communities.

Many doctors back then used public patients for research, generally without their knowledge - these patients were being treated for free so it was considered fair enough to use them as research subjects.

In the 1950's "benevolent deception" was commonly practiced and so it was not uncommon for patients to have no idea of their diagnosis, especially if it was something as distressing as cancer. This was also the practice in the USSR in the book I mentioned above.

Henrietta was not told that her cells were replicating themselves in a laboratory and her family only found out inadvertently about twenty years later. By this time HeLa cells were a huge business and were sold and sent all over the world.

When the family realised that people were making money out of their mother's cells, they became angry, especially when they couldn't even afford medical insurance.

At the time this book went to press, blood samples and body bits taken during procedures such as removal of moles, ovaries, appendices, and tonsils - which are given voluntarily - are often kept indefinitely and later used to develop things like vaccines and drugs and no permission is required.

Rebecca Skloot first heard about HeLa cells when she was sixteen and doing a community college biology class. She spent a decade researching Henrietta's background including time spent getting to know Deborah Lacks, Henrietta's daughter, who helped provide much of the information for the book.

The documentary below, The Way of all Flesh was filmed in 1998 and is a very interesting account of the science behind the HeLa cells:

I read somewhere that a version for younger readers was published in 2012: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: The Young Reader's Edition by Gregory Mone, Rebecca Skloot, 256 Pages, Published in 2012, but it looks like it's out of print.