...Nonfiction became Murphy’s stock in trade. By the early 1980s he discovered that the first-hand perspective was what made his books click, and that particular element became pivotal in his subsequent works. In all, Murphy produced more than 35 books
for young readers, including several historical novels for middle grade readers and a collaboration with his wife, writer and children’s TV producer Alison Blank: Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure (Clarion, 2012).
Among his many accolades, The Great Fire (Scholastic, 1995), exploring the Chicago Fire of 1871, and An American Plague (Clarion, 2003), about the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1793 Philadelphia, both received Newbery Honors. An American Plague was also a
National Book Award finalist. Murphy received the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2010 in recognition of his “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”...