Recently, while I was “tweeting” (on Twitter) about Sam going through some social “celiac growing pains,” I got a tweet back from @NoBiggieBunch about a book series for children called “The No Biggie Bunch.” Intrigued, I went to the website and checked it out. I got excited because it appeared as though the book series addressed the very topics I was trying to work through with Sam!
The No Biggie Bunch book series, co-authored by Kerry McManama and Heather Mehra is about a group of kids, who (all but one) have a different food allergy:
Greta: “Allergic” to Gluten (Yes, the authors know that celiac disease not an “allergy,” but this is the best way for kids to understand the concept. Six-year-olds can have a hard enough time saying “autoimmune disease,” let alone trying to EXPLAIN it! Besides, many other groups of kids are on the gluten-free diet for reasons other than celiac disease, so the term “allergy” is a simple, all-inclusive term to get the point across.).
Scotty: Allergic to Soy,
Paige: Allergic to Peanuts,
Davis: Allergic to Dairy,
Elliott: Allergic to Egg,
Natalie: No Food Allergies.
Here is a summary from The No Biggie Bunch Website:
The No Biggie Bunch is a diverse group of kids who handle the social challenges of food allergies with poise and panache.
The adventures of Davis, Natalie, Paige, Elliot, Scotty and Greta are neither technical nor medical. Their stories are meant to act as springboards for conversation among children, parents, teachers, friends and family members.
The No Biggie Bunch doesn’t speak about limitations or medications. They focus on allergen-free celebrations and smart preparation.
Focus on Fun and all you can do and pretty soon, you will be saying “No Biggie” too.
Kerry sent me a complimentary copy of the Sports-Tastic Birthday Party book to read with Sam then review on my blog. When the book arrived, the first thing Sam noticed were the illustrations by Michael Kline. Sam loved the animated characters, the bright colors, and of course the fact that the story involved sports!
We sat down to read the book and I was pleased to see that the story is simple enough that a beginning reader (like Sam) can actually read the story with just a little bit of assistance (which I think made Sam like the book even more!).
The Sports-Tastic Birthday Party is about “The No Biggie Bunch” having fun at Scotty’s birthday party. The book opens with the kids playing a game of soccer at Scotty’s party then moves to issue at hand… cake time. The story details how the kids each handled their individual allergies when it came time for the cake. Each of the characters in the book took turns showing their friends what each of them brought for their treat. The treats weren’t just gluten-free, peanut-free, etc. versions of cupcakes either, they brought other types of treats as well! Sam really took to that idea and thought he would like to take something different to a future party as well! We sat there are talked about all the different possibilities, like Surf Sweets Gummy Worms! I was so excited to see Sam take some control over his gluten-free diet!!
This is a very inclusive concept for a food allergy book. The kids are not only diverse in their food allergies, but ethnically, racially, and gender differentiated as well. In a way, the food allergies are presented as just another “difference” that we all have, whether we are boys or girls, black or white, allergic or not. Again and again we see that all of it is “No Biggie!” I would love to see another book along these lines, but addressing how a single allergic child copes at a birthday party with non-allergic kids, which probably happens more often than not. I think the authors have come up with a great premise, that the food part of the party is “no big deal,” fun and friendships are the priority. I also like that the book is simple. It is easy for children to read and understand the overall point. I think the The No Biggie Bunch book series can be a great way to inspire food allergic children to come up with their own ways of navigating social situations that involve food.
There are multiple take-aways from this book for parents like us who are confronted with this all the time. First and foremost, this is a great book for your allergic kiddo, it helped Sam to realize that he is not alone on this journey (even if it seems so at times). Second, at least one of these books should bought and donated to your child’s class on the first day of school (a very well spent $15, if you ask me), I’m actually going to buy all four and donate them to Sam’s School Library. I think most teachers would love to read a book like this to their class with great pictures, lots of sight words, and a compassionate story.
There are currently four books in the series, each retailing for $14.99:
To enter for a chance to win a free copy of The No Biggie Bunch’s Sports-Tastic Birthday Party:
First, leave a comment to this post about how you and your child “creatively cope” with birthday parties when it comes to cake and ice cream (even pizza). I have shared some of my own ideas in previous blog posts, but I am always looking for new inspiration!
Second, You also need to do at least one of the following (but I encourage you to do them all, especially the first one to help our kiddos!!):
- Vote for the No Biggie Film Idea in the Pepsi Refresh Project. The authors of The No Biggie Bunch are competing for a $50,000 grant in the Pepsi Refresh Project. Should they win, this is what they want to do:
Food allergies are a big deal, but living with them doesn’t have to be. We will employ the creative coping concepts, great attitude & ready response The No Biggie Bunch is known for on the page & bring it to life – in an animated film!
Food allergies in children continue to rise and the fear of the unknown grows with it. Kids with food allergies learn & adjust quickly, but it’s their peers and other parents, teachers & family members that need to be educated.
Our goal is to produce a film to be distributed to all grade schools in the U.S., becoming a vital part of every school health program. School children can bring home their new knowledge and communication techniques, share it with their families & start the food allergy safety conversation.
Although the film will cover serious medical content, it will be delivered on a kid’s level. Education through entertainment – it’s the No Biggie Bunch way!
Bonus: A reasonably priced, downloadable iTunes version.
- Sign up to follow @NoBiggieBunch on Twitter
- Become a Fan of The No Biggie Bunch on Facebook
Using a Random Number Generator, I will pick the winner next Friday, March 12, 2010.
Good Luck (and vote for the No Biggie Film Project!!!)
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