So it’s Thursday of the first week of school, and things are going well. Katherine is off to a great start, and she hasn’t heard any other children complain about the new food allergy policies. Eli came bounding out of preschool on Tuesday announcing, “I have a good day at school!” And he didn’t shed any tears on day two of preschool (today). Helen is adjusting to being alone with Mama.
Mama, on the other hand, has been weeping at the drop of a hat. Or the turn of a page, as it were. Oh hai. Has you met Gina Clowes’ book, One Of The Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergies? Well, buckle up, Buttercup, and grab your Kleenex. Remember when we were all talking about what a good children’s book about allergies would look like? It’s here, and its name is One of the Gang.
Do you know the Mister Rogers’ First Experiences series of books on divorce, when a pet dies, potty training, etc.? I love these books and have used them for many a parenting milestone. They have a calm, confidence-building tone, and they show photographs of real children going through the situation being discussed. (Yes, Amazon reviewers, some of the nice people in the photos are wearing dated clothing from the 80s. Listen to me: kids don’t care. Never once has my child said, “Wow, I could really relate to these people if only they weren’t wearing blouses with big bows at the neck and tinted eyeglasses with initial stickers on them.”) One of the Gang has the same gentle, empowering tone as these books, if not the retro fashion sense. I think Family Communications should publish it.
One of the Gang starts with a brief discussion of how children are different from one another, then moves into a specific discussion of food allergies and the struggles and emotions that go along with them. The book is addressed to children with allergies, but I think other children could learn from it, too. Then–genius. Gina writes that food allergies won’t stop you from being what you want to be, and she includes photos of famous people who have food allergies, such as Jerome Bettis and Dr. Robert Wood. She ends by writing, “You are here for a very special purpose! I wonder what it is.”
*Cue Parental Crying*
Here is what I think is most important about this book. More than any other allergy book we have read, this book prompted discussions about the emotions that go along with being a child with a food allergy. Katherine talked a lot about the page that says, “You might wish that you didn’t have food allergies and that you could eat whatever you wanted.” Her favorite photo is one of happy children eating ice pops, with the caption, “When other grown-ups bring treats that are safe for you, it’s terrific!”
I am so grateful for this book. Thank you, Gina.