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Children's Nonfiction History

Fred & Marjorie

A Doctor, a Dog, and the Discovery of Insulin

by (author) Deborah Kerbel

illustrated by Angela Poon

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
History, Biography, Experiments & Projects, Discoveries
Recommended Age
8 to 12
Recommended Grade
5 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price

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A graphic novel for ages 8 to 12 that tells the true story of the life-saving discovery of insulin

"Readers will want to dig deeper into this true story of canine heroes and lifesaving science." — Kirkus Reviews

In 1921, Frederick Banting was a young doctor with an idea: could the mysterious secretions of the pancreas be used to treat diabetes? We now call this substance insulin, and its life-saving discovery was an impactful milestone in medical science.

Banting and his assistant, Charles Best, worked together in a small lab to test the theory with street dogs. Banting formed a special bond with one of his test dogs and gave her a name: Marjorie. After Marjorie responded well to insulin treatments, the treatments went on to be used for humans with diabetes—and the results were deemed practically miraculous.

A real-life scientific milestone told in an innovative graphic novel format, the book also thoughtfully discusses the use of animals for medical research, including back matter on the subject and further information about diabetes.

About the authors

DEBORAH KERBEL a écrit des livres pour les jeunes adultes, les préadolescents et les lecteurs débutants. Ses romans ont été présélectionnés pour les Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général, le prix du livre de l’année pour les jeunes adultes de l’Association canadienne des bibliothèques et le Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Elle vit à Toronto avec son mari, ses deux adolescents et Freddie, leur chien adopté.


DEBORAH KERBEL was born in London, England, and now lives in Thornhill, Ontario with her husband, son and daughter, and a rescue dog named Freddie. Deborah has written a number of picture books, and is the author of four young adult and two middle-grade novels, including My Deal with the Universe. Her books have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association’s YA Book Award, and many readers’ choice awards. Visit her online at

Deborah Kerbel's profile page

Angela Poon is a freelance illustrator and comic artist living in Mississauga, Ontario. She is a graduate of Sheridan College's Bachelor of Illustration program, and is the illustrator of the picture book Vee in Between and the graphic novel Fred & Marjorie: A Doctor, a Dog, and the Discovery of Insulin. Angela enjoys capturing warmth and little moments of everyday life in her illustrations.

Angela Poon's profile page


  • Winner, Red Cedar Book Awards
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner, Yellow Cedar Award
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens
  • Commended, A Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Commended, Outstanding Science Trade Book
  • Commended, A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Commended, Best Graphic Novels for Children Reading List
  • Commended, Ontario Library Association Best Bets List Honourable Mention

Editorial Reviews

"A remarkably fascinating and poignant story ... A great STEM book."

The Picture Book Buzz

"Chronicles a medical breakthrough that has saved the lives of millions of children ... A laudably frank, sensitive account."

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

"This book is a great introduction to a topic that many readers might not be aware of ... A great addition."

School Library Connection

"A delightful graphic novel biography ... Kerbel and illustrator Poon make great use of the graphic medium to convey details in pictures."

Canadian Review of Materials

"In both the writing and artwork, this is a story effectively told in an attractive and accessible way."


"[A] heartwarming story about how insulin was discovered as a treatment for diabetes."

Kiss the Book

"Readers will want to dig deeper into this true story of canine heroes and lifesaving science."

Kirkus Reviews

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