Peeps by Scott Westerfield

Book Info

Grade Level
High School
STEM Concepts
Human Health, Blood Pathology, Epidemiology, Parasitology

In Peeps, vampirism is caused by a blood parasite. When the main character, 19-year-old Cal, is infected with the parasite, he must track down everyone he spread the virus to and find the mysterious woman who infected him. Along the way, Cal has to battle blood-thirsty savages, explore New York’s rat-infested sewers, and deal with the raging parasite inside him. Cal gets help from a young journalism student, but will she become his next girlfriend or his next victim?

This fun, fast-paced detective story puts a new spin on the vampire legend and explores scientific concepts of real-live parasites and epidemiology.


Rats and the Black Death: Two Things You Don’t Want to Catch

As you learned in Peeps, rats can be reservoirs for disease, storing germs and viruses and even deadly plagues inside their little rodent bodies. Watch this video to hear from European History expert Bethany Aidroos on the role rats played in the Black Plague, one of the most deadly pandemics known to man.

Rats: Pests or Pals?

Sure, rats live in sewers, eat garbage, and act as vectors for human disease, but they can also be cuddly companions. Watch this video to hear why teenager Alana thinks her pet rats are a great addition to her family.


Looking for something creepy and fun to read after Peeps? Librarian Steve Roman from DeKalb Public Library has recommendations for you. Watch this video to learn about more books on everything from Victorian monster hunters to the real-life scientists who explore the hidden worlds underneath our modern cities.


Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download the Lesson Plan

Positive Parasites

Say the word “parasite” and the words creepy, evil, blood-sucker, and gross all tend to come to mind.  But various ecosystems greatly benefit from the much maligned parasite.  In this multi-faceted activity, students first research the value of parasites.  Secondly, they will create their own parasite and determine the impact of introducing it into an ecosystem.

Download the Lesson Plan


The various species discussed in the book all had adaptations that allowed them to survive. In this PBL, students will research endangered animals and determine an adaptation that would increase the chances of survival.

Download the Lesson Plan

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide.

About the Author

Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld is the author of several novels for young adults and adults. He is best known for his futuristic, sci-fi series Uglies and his historical, steam punk series Leviathan. Westerfeld is originally from Texas, and now splits his time between New York City and Sidney, Australia, to avoid winter weather in either hemisphere.

Before becoming a writer, Westerfeld worked as a factory worker making lead soldiers, a substitute teacher, a textbook editor, and a software designer. And, according to his blog, he never ever wears jeans.

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