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Reviews: Allergy-Friendly Children’s Books

New Releases

BLUE [1]
BLUE book
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


Adventures of Celia Kaye [2]The Adventures of Celia Kaye [3]
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


Frenemy Jane - Stephanie Sorkin [4]Frenemy Jane [5]
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


HumFreeHumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy [6]
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

Published in 2014

My Year of Epic Rock [7]
By Andrea PyrosMy year of epic rock [7]
Sourcebooks, $7.99

In 7th grade, Nina Simmons has some big problems to deal with, beyond managing her severe allergy to peanuts. Thrust into a new school and realizing her ‘best friend’ is not living up to the title (OMG!), Nina is forced to meet new people and learn to be herself. She winds up at the lunchroom’s peanut-free table, where she and fellow allergic students decide to form a rock band named after a certain epinephrine auto-injector. Nina breaks out of her shell, and becomes a star along the way. A great book for young readers (recommended age 10-14) with food allergies. –Patrick Bennett


My Immune System Needs Glasses [8] 
By Michelle Nel
Untitled [8]Allergygator Publishing, $15.99

Allergy mom and author Michelle Nel tackles the herculean task of explaining, in rhyme and in a manner kids can grasp, what exactly goes on inside the body when a food allergy reaction occurs. And she does a great job. Things that most adults without an MD wouldn’t know are explained succinctly – as part of an outlandish tale of a boy’s questions about his allergies and an alien visitor, Lucille, whose job it is to answer them. IgE antibodies, mast cells, histamine and more are covered and illustrated in a fun, accessible manner. Did we mention it rhymes? –Patrick Bennett


The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma [9]
By M. Maitland DeLand, MD,
Greenleaf BookGreat Katie Kate offers answers about asthma cover [9]
 Group Press, $14.95

When three newly diagnosed kids with asthma are waiting at the allergist’s office, superhero the Great Katie Kate appears to explain the condition and put them at ease. With captivating illustrations, kids can easily understand the topics that are presented, including what asthma is, how it can be triggered, and how medications control it. The physician-author manages to explain spirometry, peak flow meters and more. The Worry Wombat, a gloomy character in each illustration shrinks along with the kids’ anxiety as they learn how asthma can be successfully managed.


Published in 2013

To Be a Nut or Not! [10]To be a Nut or not [10]
By Michelle Nel; illustrated by Jennifer Bebernes
Allergygator Publishing, $15

This little book, written in read-aloud verse, tells an adorable and highly educational story. Author Michelle Nel Chow starts her tale with a big lakeside gathering of a clan – the nut family to be precise.

In attendance are the usual suspects: Uncle Cashew, cousin Pistachio, the Pine Nut triplets and more. Also there, but feeling that he doesn’t quite fit is young Peanut. You can see where this is going: Walnut, the oldest and wisest, takes Peanut aside to explain the difference between nuts and legumes.

The author also clearly knows what a study proved: that many children with tree nut allergies don’t know what different nuts look like, and that can be dangerous. The story, the delightful illustrations and a handy tree nut chart provide a fun and informative solution to any confusion for kids with – and without – food allergies. –Gwen Smith

Patty’s Secret: A Tale of a Girl with Food Allergies
Patty's Secret - Kids Book [11]By Leneille Moon; illustrated by Brandon Fall,
self-published, $15

Allergy mom Leneille Moon created this heartwarming tale to spread awareness and draw attention to food allergies in schools.

The story follows Patty, a little pig, who is allergic to multiple foods and wants to keep it a secret on her first day of school.

When a classmate asks about the allergy- free stickers on her lunch box, she quickly changes the subject. Things turn risky when a parent brings in peanut butter cupcakes to share with the class.

But in the end, Patty learns a valuable lesson: her allergies are nothing to be ashamed of, and she needs to speak up about them. Moon has created a touching story for children, and a great discussion-starter. –Patrick Bennett

Published in 2012

KyIie’s Special Treat Kylies special treat (2) [12]
y Letizia Barbetta
Second Street Publishing, $18.95

Aimed at girls 4 to 8, this adorable allergy fairy tale features baking fairies and a prince who tastes sensational sugar cookies at his grand ball.

He finally meets Kylie, their maker, and she explains that they taste extra special because they’re made without milk, eggs or nuts.

The prince is swept off his feet, and the pair head, naturally, toward happily ever after. Children will love Wendy Sefeik’s illustrations. –Erin Stevenson

Nurse Teddy Bear Learns About Food Allergies  [13]Nurse Teddy Bear [13]
By Ann Lempert Deutsch
self-published, $9.95 

This little book is a gem, created by a school nurse author and wonderfully illustrated by young students with food allergies.

The star of the story, Nurse Teddy Bear, is the stuffed (yet animated) sidekick of a school nurse. The pair does an excellent job of explaining allergies, including symptoms, why there is a special lunch table, and why “food we never share, listen to Nurse Teddy Bear.” –E.S.

William Edwards and the Wizardly Glasses [14]
By Stacie-Zoe BergWizardlyGlasses [14]
CreateSpace, $9.95

Journalist S.Z. Berg has created a completely engrossing set of stories and characters with the William Edwards book series.

Young readers meet the nerdish William in this first book, and learn about his odd life with rich, aloof “adoptive” parents (they bought him online) who seem oblivious to his basic needs – and his celiac disease and mustard allergy.

With shades of Harry Potter, William’s life changes for the better when he dons a pair of green glasses, finds a place called Winkleberry and begins to master magic powers. A page turner for kids 8-12.

Also now released: the prequel; Winkleberry: Waiting for William Edwards. –G.S.

Squirrel’s Peanut Allergy  [15]Squirrels Peanut allergy book cover [15]
By Tanya Dawn Richards
AuthorHouse,  $21.99

The lead character, Squirrel, is an affable little creature who explains everything from label reading to peanut-free schools.

With captivating illustrations drawn by the author-artist. –E.S.



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