Sunday, July 20, 2008

Review: The Peanut Pickle

Summary: Your child has a peanut allergy. Now what? Coping with severe food allergies can be overwhelming, especially for a young child. Find out how Ben learns to take control of his peanut allergy in school, at parties, with friends, at t-ball practice and during holidays. Kids will learn to speak up about their allergy and how to deal with difficult and awkward situations that inevitably arise when a child has a life-threatening food allergy. -- Barnes and Noble

If you read my review of MATTERS OF FAITH by Kristy Kiernan, you know that I have a young son with life-threatening food allergies. He's severly allergic to quite a few foods including peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, and shellfish (that's what we know of right now.) It is a huge challenge as a parent to keep him away from these foods. And, as you can imagine, I am extremely concerned that I won't be able to keep him safe when he's away from me. That's why I thought THE PEANUT PICKLE by Jessica Ureel was such a wonderful book for any child with serious food allergies.

We have been teaching my son about food allergies for as long as I can remember (he was officially diagnosed with some allergies around six months old.) He is incredible in that he knows what he's allowed to eat. Of course, he's three so I'm not totally confident that he'll always be right. Even so he is very, very cautious ever since he accidentally took a sip of milk and ended up in the hospital. He's even told his preschool teachers that he's not allowed to eat the marshmallows that they gave to him -- I okayed them before school that morning, but he wasn't aware of that. Thank goodness he has the intelligence and temperment to handle his unfortunate situation!

While we are always conscious of his food allergies and it's a major issue every day in our house, I finally decided that my son was ready for THE PEANUT PICKLE. If I had to guess, I'd say that this book is aimed for children about 4 to 8 years old who have serious food allergies. (I also think it's wonderful for kids who are in close contact with children with food allergies so they can understand why they have to be careful too.) My son actually loved this book, and I think he could totally relate to Ben the little boy with the peanut allergy. After we were done reading it, we talked about what foods he's allergic to and what he should do when someone eats these foods around him. I think he "gets it."

What I loved about this book is that it gives children with food allergies the necessary skills that they need to stay safe. In THE PEANUT PICKLE, your child will learn: how to say "no" when a person offers him food, to inquire about ingredient labels, how to explain his food allergy to others, and to ask others to help keep him safe. I can't always be with my son, so he needs to know how to speak up about his food allergies with other children as well as grownups.

I almost hate to even mention how good I thought this book was because I bought it a few years ago. When I began researching it to write this review, I found that it's out of print and extremely difficult to find right now (or ridiculously expensive.) If you are interested in reading this book, check your local library to see if they have a copy. This is the only food allergy children's book that I own right now; but during my research, I found many other ones that also look terrific!

I will never be one hundred percent comfortable with my son and his food allergies -- I always feel like there's the chance that he will be in contact with one of his allergens and have a horrendous reaction; but I think, as a parent, that I have no choice but to equip him with the skills he needs to stay alive. This book is definitely a good start!


Jeane said...

My daughter is three and we just learned she has a serious allergy to certain medicines. Luckily this is not something she'll run into without supervision, but it frightens us nevertheless. I can't imagine coping with a food allergy, especially one your child likes and sees other kids eating! sounds like a very useful book.

Bonnie said...


I just linked to your site from Book Club Girl as your site is listed in their book blogs. I was drawn to this review as I have a son who is now 9 with severe food allergies. He is allergic to Peanuts, tree nuts and soy. He was allergic to much more when he was younger and outgrew many. I understand your fears about keeping your son safe as I have experienced the same feelings and still do! It is so important to teach children how to speak up for themselves and ask questions. This book sounds wonderful and I had not heard of it before. It's too bad that it is out of print. I would love to chat with you by email if you would like about food allergies. I just started my own blog and plan to review a book sometime addressing food allergies as well. I feel like I could dedicate a whole seperate blog to issues related to food allergies! I am involved in a local food allergy support group formed by moms in our community and it has been very helpful for us as well as a way to educate the schools and community.