I received a copy of Hold the Cheese Please!: A Story for Children About Lactose Intolerance the other day. It was written by Dr. Frank J. Sileo, a psychologist who is lactose intolerant. The accompanying press release says that this book is “the first and only book written for children about lactose intolerance.” Sileo’s previous children’s book, Toilet Paper Flowers, is “the first illustrated book for children with Crohn’s disease.”
Hold the Cheese Please! tells the story of a lactose intolerant child named Danny who is teased by a classmate and then eats dairy to prove he can. He becomes ill. Then he and the school nurse teach his class about being lactose intolerant.
The press release states that this book is for children ages 6-12, but I’m not sure about that. I think some of it might be a bit over the heads of six-year olds, and I think the way Danny handles the bully in his class might not work for older children. Also, I don’t think the way Danny speaks is true to life. Still, I am glad to see that there is now a book available about lactose intolerance. I think this book will be most effective for children who are lactose intolerant, rather than for their classmates.
In the notes to parents, Sileo makes the distinction between lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. I wish he had done the same in the text of the book. When the nurse is explaining lactose intolerance to the class, she says, “You cannot catch it from someone and people do not die from it.” That would be the perfect place to insert a sentence about dairy allergies, which people often confuse with lactose intolerance, because people can and do die from it.