The article examines recently published children’s stories treating the subject of polio and other historical milestones from the mid-twentieth-century. Responding to recent theories that critique the sentimentalizing of history or disability in children’s literature, the article finds a fairly strong correlation between historical awareness and realistic depictions of polio—and ableist bigotry—in the selected texts. Meanwhile, no matter how realistic the rendering of history, polio (recovery) enables the happy ending in each case. As polio met its own happy ending in the publication of the Salk vaccine in 1955, so the polio road to recovery is indicated in each story examined here, by way of casting this period in U.S. history—full of heroism and achievement but also tragedy, hysteria, and confusion—in the best possible light.


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pp. 21-37
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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