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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, Discoveries, Experiments & Projects, Biography
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 5 to 12


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 is the author of several picture books, including Before You Were Born, When Molly Drew Dogs, and the award-winning Sun Dog, as well as novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in London, England, she moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, two book-loving children, and a schnoodle named Alfredo.


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


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

Editorial Reviews

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

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

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

Kirkus Reviews

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

The Picture Book Buzz

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

Kiss the Book

Other titles by Deborah Kerbel

Other titles by Angela Poon

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