Pharmacy Girl: The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and the Truth about Billy Detwiler (Paperback)

Pharmacy Girl: The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and the Truth about Billy Detwiler By Kate Szegda Cover Image
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California Reads Teacher Recommended Book


August 1918. Twelve-year-old Josie Winslow lives with her family above her father's pharmacy. Everybody likes Josie, except Billy Detwiler, the new class bully who is looking for his next victim. He calls Josie "Pharmacy Girl," and it is no compliment.

While Josie helps in the drug store and plans for the start of school, her father reads newspaper headlines about the war with Germany. And he is puzzled by the news of influenza arriving in New York on ships from Europe. It's still summer. Flu is a winter disease.

By mid-October, Spanish influenza is epidemic. But it's just the flu, right? No.

Doctors are baffled. Josie's father has never seen anything like it. Spanish influenza is killing young and healthy people like her parents. It can kill in a matter of days-or hours. Schools close. Churches too. Even the soda fountain in the drug store is shut down. Grave diggers can't keep up with the burials. The medical community is overwhelmed by so many people being so sick all at one time. And there are no effective vaccines, no ventilators, and no anti-virals to stop a pandemic.

For Josie, the war and the bully become insignificant when her mother catches the deadly disease. Josie is scared, but she is no slacker. She steps up to take her mother's place in the store and in the house. Then her best friend comes down with the flu. And Josie's baby sister gets sick too. Who would be next?

Can Josie help the people she loves, and the bully she hates, survive the pandemic?

Published before COVID and inspired by stories of the author's pharmacist grandfather, Pharmacy Girl is Kate Szegda's award-winning debut novel for middle-grade readers and people who love history.

If you like page turners rich in historical detail and encouraging stories of hope and resilience, you'll love Pharmacy Girl.

Buy Pharmacy Girl today.

  • California Teachers' Association, California Reads selection 2021-2022
  • Readers' Favorite International Book Award, Finalist, Children's Pre-teen Fiction 2021
  • National Federation of Press Women, 2nd Place Award for Children's Fiction 2020
  • Delaware Press Association Award, Children's Fiction 2020
  • American Book Fest, Best Book Awards, Finalist, Children's Fiction 2020
  • Moonbeam Children's Fiction Award, Silver Medal for Pre-teen Historical/Cultural Fiction 2019

Product Details
ISBN: 9781791660574
ISBN-10: 1791660576
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Pages: 312
Language: English