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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Book Review: Mommy, Is This Safe To Eat?

I was recently contacted by Christina Black, author of two books for peanut allergic children and their parents. Entitled 'Mommy, Is This Safe To Eat' and 'Starting School With A Food Allergy', the books are intended to help young children understand how to stay safe while still having fun.

I decided that the best way to review these books was to read them to my 2 1/2 year old peanut allergic daughter. She has made great progress in understanding her allergy. Every time she sees peanuts, peanut butter or potentially unsafe cookies she says: 'No peanuts for me. Peanuts make me sick'.

That being said, it is very difficult for her to be aware of peanuts hidden in other foods. The photos in these books, such as those depicting potentially unsafe muffins or crackers, were very effective. She was confused at times, and the point was clearly made that Mommy and Daddy to help her determine if a food is safe.

The M&M's were particularly confusing since Smarties are safe, at least here in Canada. She pointed and shouted, "Smarties!" only to have Daddy tell her that they were not Smarties and that she should only eat things that look like Smarties if Daddy or Mommy say it's safe.

The books also capture food allergy safety from a child's perspective. The allergy learning process can be confusing and frustrating, and the books deal with some of the most challenging scenarios: grocery shopping , forgoing cookies or snacks in social situations and dealing with concerns that a peanut allergy is the antidote to fun.

In future titles I would suggest a more engaging narrative format to bring the child deeper into the book. Children love to follow a well formed story or theme. Another idea would be to have something, perhaps a peanut, that repeats on each page. Kids enjoy hunting for these items when they are hidden throughout the book.

Though there are many websites, such as Safe4Kids, with content related to food allergy in the classroom, sometimes it also helps to have a printed book with pictures. These books could serve as a useful teaching aid for all children, not just those with allergies, as they learn about food allergy safety.


Christina Black said...

Thank you for reviewing my books. Teaching our allergic kids to be safe is so important. More info on the books can be found at

chriskauf said...

Safe is such a scary concept , I just found out my school was ordering baked goods from a "safe" bakery , upon prodding it is not , they have loads of tree nuts and give NO guarantees,thankfully I trusted my gut that this kind of mistake was being made. It will not happen again on my watch.
Chris a very shaken up mom for the moment.

Kristin said...

My son loves both of Ms. Black's books, and actually quotes the appropriate pages when we find ourselves in the grocery store, at the park, etc! It has really helped him understand his situation better, and seeing actual photographs of another allergic child "in action" has had quite an impact on him. Because my son is also allergic to eggs, dairy & garlic, I was worried that a book focusing exclusively on peanuts and tree nuts would confuse him, but it was actually to the contrary-he was able to "transfer" the skills he learned from 'Ricky' and apply them to other allergens. It also helped him to understand that, while not everyone is allergic, not all allergic people are allergic to the same things; "Ricky can eat eggs, but I can't. Neither of us can eat peanuts".

Michael said...

I'm a part of a design firm that created a concept for a product that sniffs out peanuts in foods. Its a friendly elephant that tells you if your food is safe to eat. Right now its only a concept, but I thought you'd enjoy it.