books, review

Book Review: Incubators: A Graphic History by Paige V Polinsky, Josep Rural

Official Synopsis: When babies are born early, they often have trouble surviving. But special containers called incubators help babies grow by keeping them warm and protected. At first, people in the medical world were skeptical about incubators. But some trailblazing doctors believed in the technology—and put it on display across Europe and the United States. “Incubator exhibits” showed the public how incubators saved lives. The controversial displays led people to accept this medical innovation. Meet the doctors who invented the incubator, and follow the incubator’s fascinating rise with this graphic history.

PUBLISHER:Lerner Publishing Group
SERIES:Medical Breakthroughs

About The Authors (Official Bios from Barnes and Noble):

Paige Polinsky is a writer, copy editor, and professional freelancer based in Minnesota. She writes across many industries, from children’s nonfiction to veterinary medicine. She is interested in the judicial system and loves to apply her skills to the legal field.

Josep Rural is a European illustrator who has worked on popular science projects such as medical apps and books about diseases. He has also worked on several European comic magazines and currently works for various humorous publications.


In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive an e-arc (electronic advanced reader’s copy) of this book from Netgalley. This does not influence my review, and I was not required to give a positive review in exchange for the copy I received.

This is a graphic novel history aimed towards older elementary or middle school students, and works well for that reading level without dumbing down concepts as similar books sometimes do. The colors were bright and engaging, and the illustrations sharp and easy to track.

The story chronologically follows the invention of incubators for premature babies, inspired by similar machines used to care for baby chicks, and how medical practitioners were hesitant to adopt the technology even once it proved to improve health and survival outcomes for infants, largely motivated by the financial cost the equipment and extra staff required. As a history, this was fascinating, as I didn’t know it, despite having been a premature infant who spent time in an incubator myself. I think this could also open a discussion into the role financial motivations play into healthcare decisions, not only on an individual level such as health insurance or savings, but on an institutional level such as hospitals, as well as the inherent ablism of considering the additional cost of saving the lives of more likely to be sickly or disabled premature infants before considering the potential to save lives first and first-most from a profession that preaches “do no harm”.

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