Author: Sharon Chisvin
Illustrator: Carol Leszcz
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Printed and Bound by Art Bookbindery
Number of pages: 20
Recommended age: 3+
Son Rating: ★★★★☆
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Summary (from back cover):The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter is a rhyming story for young children about coping with food allergies. The girl of the title sometimes gets upset about having a food allergy, but then remembers that everyone in her class “has something special or different that no one else has”.
What it’s about: This book is about a girl who can’t eat peanut butter because she’s allergic to it.
What I liked and disliked: I liked that I learned about what it’s like to have a peanut allergy. I also learned about all the different kinds of food you can have at lunch. Some of them sound yummy like the macaroni and tacos, but some sound yucky like the kidney beans, mushroom quiche, and especially the one where they destroyed the chocolate spread by putting sprouts in it.
I liked the picture of all the kids and we had to guess which kid was which like: who has red hair, who has artistic flair, and who is very tall and who is very small.
I didn’t really like that the pictures were in cartoon. I think my sister can draw better than that.
My bottom line: This book was ok. I would recommend it to little girls 6 years old or younger.
What it’s about: The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter introduces us to a little girl, Sam, who has an allergy to nuts. Sam is sad that she can’t eat peanut butter like the rest of the kids in her class, but she soon discovers that all the kids in the class have something special and unique about them.
What I liked and disliked: This is a wonderful little book centred around a theme that is increasingly common place: food allergies. Food allergies, and particularly nut allergies, are becoming more prevalent in our society. There are usually one or two children in either my son’s or daughter’s class who have a nut or other food allergy. Usually, the only information passed on to kids and parents about food allergies is “Don’t send snacks or lunches with nuts to school with your child.” In effect, this puts a negative spin on the issue and places stigma on the individual with the allergy. What this book does so well is put a positive spin on the issue, it provides information about allergies, and it de-stigmatizes the individual who suffers from food allergies.
I love the way that Chisvin provides numerous examples of other ways individuals can be “different” – many of which also traditionally stigmatize a child (e.g., wearing glasses, having two mothers, being an immigrant, etc.). So, in this respect, this book is about more than just allergies – it’s also about the de-stigmatization of individuals who, through a variety of factors, sit on the margins of mainstream society. I would even go so far as saying that this book would be a useful tool for anti-bullying campaigns as well as within food allergy awareness circles.
Another part of the book that I thought was really well done was the inclusion of a list of options for lunches that are nut-free. Let’s face it, many of us grew up in the peanut butter and jam sandwich era. I’m pretty sure that all through school, 90% of my lunches were P & J sandwiches. The simple fact of the matter is that more and more schools are moving toward nut-free environments for the whole school, not just individual classes. Chisvin provides a long list of options for nut-free lunches including “tuna salad on lettuce leaves”, “apple and swiss cheese sandwiches”, and our personal favorite…”A bagel with sprouts and chocolate spread.” I think my children’s reaction on the last one went something like “Eeeewwww.”
Just a quick note on the illustrations…I really enjoyed the kid-friendly pictures in the book. They were designed to look like they were drawn and coloured by a child. Our favorite was of the class photo. We enjoyed identifying the child that matched the description in the text.
My bottom line: I really enjoyed this book and I think it would be a useful tool in discussions about food allergies and bullying. I would highly recommend it, in particular, to teachers and to families with children who have food allergies, as well as children in general who are 3 years and older.
*** The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review. ***
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