Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kid Konnection: Peanut

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a young adult graphic novel that deals with an issue that's very near and dear to my heart.

Summary: "Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it's like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone . . . and no one knows you." Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there's the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike. -- Schwartz& Wade

When I opened the envelope and saw this book with just a peanut on the cover, my initial thought was that it might be a graphic novel about peanut allergies. How cool would that be for those kids who are dealing with food allergies? And then, I quickly realized that it was highly unlikely. Just because I see a peanut and immediately think of my son's peanut allergy, doesn't mean that it's a normal reaction. I figured the book was about a small kid or something along those lines.

However, much to my surprise, PEANUT by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe actually is about a peanut allergy of sorts -- albeit a fabricated one!

When Sadie moves to a new town and starts a new high school, she has those normal feelings of insecurity about meeting new people and making new friends. So Sadie decides that if she pretends to have a severe peanut allergy, she might be able to garner some attention and make some friends in the process. She even goes to far as to order a medical bracelet identifying her as having this allergy. Initially, everything is working to plan for Sadie. She adjusts well to the school and even manages to find a boyfriend; however, she finds that keeping a secret this big isn't always easy.

I really enjoyed PEANUT! The graphic novel was very cute and funny to boot, and I think that kids will adore Sadie and her escapades. Sadie is a great character, despite her little lie, and she seemed very authentic to me. As a kid who moved a great deal and started a lot of new schools, I could understand Sadie's insecurities and her desire to stand out. I also appreciated that it wasn't easy for Sadie to be dishonest and that she was in constant turmoil about lying to her teachers, her mother, and her friends. While I doubt that most kids will go so far as to make up a health emergency, I do think that many readers will like and be able to relate to Sadie.

In addition to being entertaining, I liked that there were some really valuable messages in PEANUT about food allergies. Naturally, I don't condone that Sadie faked a food allergy. I can attest that life-threatening food allergies are very scary and they are no joking matter, and I really appreciated that Sadie the error of her ways. In addition, I liked that there was some useful information about food allergies in the story that helped show just how serious they can be. For example, the author included some specifics about epi-pens, anaphylaxis, and warning signs for reactions.

But what I think I liked most about PEANUT was how much Sadie matured by the end of the novel. In some ways, PEANUT was a coming-of-age story for Sadie because she learned such a valuable lesson about honesty and forgiveness. Not only did Sadie lie to the school, but she also lied to her friends, her mom, and her boyfriend. She felt horrible about losing their trust and, more importantly, she realized that trust is something that she will have to earn in the future. What a great message!

PEANUT had adorable illustrations and was very fun to read. In all honestly, I think the graphic novel format was perfect for this story and will attract even reluctant readers. Personally, I though the black and white graphics were adorable, and I especially liked how Sadie was always featured in red.

Overall, PEANUT is a cute read that teens and parents alike will enjoy. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Michael Antonio Araujo said...

Sounds interesting. Someone lying about a food allergy to make friends, never heard of that one before. Both me and my sister have food allergy. Hers is peanuts and it's deathly. She's been in the hospitals a few times from touching peanuts she didn't know or eating. Even at one point she kissed her husband who ate peanuts and was rushed to the hospital. She also walks around with an epi-pen. Me on the other hand is nuts and pineapple except instead of it being deadly my mouth gets full of canker sores and becomes swollen. I can breath though. Sometimes my face will get really itchy but hopefully it won't become deadly. D=

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This does sound good! And I can totally relate to wanting to be special about SOMETHING at a new school! And what the heck - this helps teach others about the real allergy!

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure people have lied about all kinds of things to try to get attention so I could see someone doing that. This book sounds good to me!

Beth F said...

I'm going to have to read this. I have enough problems dealing with my minor allergy that I can't see making one up. But I do understand the desire kids have to fit in or to be noticed.

Laura Fabiani said...

I love that cover and I know both my kids would enjoy this a lot. It's a good storyline, unique too and even though my kids don't have allergies, the lesson is universal.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

One of my sons has a peanut allergy too. I'll have to check this book out - sound interesting!