By Katia Dabdoub Hechema
and Oswald Iten (Illustrations)
URSO International, $14.95
The title and beautifully sketched cover of this touching tale paints a slightly somber story. It’s true that moms may get a little tear-eyed, but only due the the happy ending that greets Blue.
To prepare kids’ minds for the messages ahead, this thoughtful hardback opens with a mini-journal for sharing their allergies and feelings. The relatable narrative then follows a howler monkey through diagnosis of his food allergy to — of all things — bananas. Typically tough issues, like visiting an allergist for a skin prick test, are softened with the use of comforting animals and warm illustrations. And though cutting out a key dietary food seems daunting, Blue discovers other delicious options, and quickly values feeling good above all. To etch the positive messages into memory, the book closes with a page of coloring fun: Blue as he cheerfully plays with his friends. – Alisa Fleming
The Adventures of Celia Kaye
By Kaitlin Puccio and Sarah Larnach (Illustrations)
Bent Frame, $17
Celia Kaye’s vivid imagination intrigues her new school friend. But when she stands by her tall tales rather then telling the truth, which is that she has celiac disease, this begins to push the playmate away.
From ocean bakeries with pirate battles to cracker-delivering Martians, Celia’s wild creativity spills on the pages of this visually inspired book. And in the end, she may still spin an amusing yarn, but the newly diagnosed child realizes there is no reason to lie. Her friend is not only accepting, but helpful and eager to learn about why Celia Kaye can’t eat wheat. – Alisa Fleming
By Stephanie Sorkin and Susan Robinson (Illustrations)
Mascot Books, $14.95
Written in whimsical lyrics, this is the story of having a “sometimes friend” who ‘s behavior ventures into enemy territory. The rhyming lines will keep kids skipping from page to page, as they learn what bullying can look like and how to stop it. Bright illustrations are seamlessly intertwined, expressing emotions that can be hard to show in words alone — including how problematic Jane is genuinely sad when confronted, a sign that actions could change with honesty. To bring the morals home, discussion questions delve deep than one might expect.
Though author Stephanie Sorkin addresses bullying as a whole, she ties in her experience as a mom of a child with food allergies through a sweet cupcake recipe on the final pages. – Alisa Fleming
HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy
By Alison Grace Johansen
Mascot Books, $14.95
Bound to become a hardcover classic, this whimsical tale cross-pollinates human food allergies with an adorable flying insect’s experience to help kids understand the essence of living with a diet restriction.
HumFree’s “food allergy” is to yellow and blue flowers, but he learns from his family (mama bee and his cousin with the same allergies) how he can enjoy the pollen of so many other plants. HumFree feels healthy and liberated as he plays with his friends on the pinks, oranges, greens and purples instead. The beautifully illustrated story ends with a little “spelling bee”, which includes a clever vowel acronym to address your child’s questions and provide easy take-away information. –Alisa Fleming
Next: 2014 Children’s Book Reviews