Our post today is a Q&A Gina Clowes, founder of AllergyMoms.com, provided us about her children’s book One of the Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergies. We would like to thank her for sharing information about her book with us. The book is available from Amazon and also Barnes and Noble.
One of the Gang: Question and Answer
Why did you write this book? My passion has always been to enlighten others about the emotional toll of food allergies. There is the obvious need to care for our allergic children’s health but their emotional well being is equally important and often overlooked.
Who are you targeting? My target audience is young children 3-8 years old but I have many moms who have told me that they’ve purchased this for teachers, school nurses or relatives who really had no idea how our kids see the world, which was really my secret agenda.
Do you really have a secret agenda? My hope is that in seeing the world though our children’s eyes, other adults will realize how hard it is to be excluded and how good it feels to kids when they’re included. We socialize so often with food. It’s how we connect; we break bread. That birthday cake is the focal point of the celebration. It’s hard to be the one left out of that.
What do you hope to accomplish? Several things really. I want to validate the feelings these children have. Some people tend to deny their children’s feelings of sadness or anger or fear yet these are the same moms who come to our local support group meetings to share their frustrations. Kids need help with their feelings too and finding ways to cope is healthy.
I also like to help kids to put their food allergies in perspective. It’s just one part of them and they need to know that food allergies won’t stop them from having a great life and being everything they were meant to be. I’m hoping the adults in the book will help to make this point.
What is special about the adults in the book? The adults at the end of the book all have food allergies yet they’re thriving and living terrific lives. Since food allergies are invisible, kids don’t get to see that there are people all around them with food allergies. So I included photographs of food allergic adults such as Superbowl champ Jermone Bettis, an NHL Hockey star Tom Poti, Television News Anchors Lori Stokes , Dr Robert Wood, Mrs Maine USA, and more.
Why did you decide to use photographs instead of having it illustrated? There are a lot of terrific children’s books on allergies but most of them feature a talking animal character playing the part of a child with food allergies. My kids are very literal and my son actually asked me “Do elephants really have peanut allergy?” So I knew early on that I’d want to use pictures to make it real for kids like mine.
Why was it important to you to use children who have food allergies? When we set up different scenes in the book, such as the birthday party where one girl is eating a safe cupcake while all of the other kids are eating the birthday cake, I wanted the expression on her face to be authentic. I’m not sure a typical kid would “get” what this is like for children who have food allergies. Often we (allergy parents) can’t even get adults to understand.
What is the reaction to the book? Adults love that the pictures can express what words cannot say. Kids love the pictures of the adults and are thrilled to know that Super bowl champs, hockey stars, television news anchors and even beauty queens can all have food allergies and still be out there having fun. I had one teacher say that when she read it in class, it sparked a long conversation about differences and all of the kids were yelling out things that are different about them. It was as though they recognized that everybody is dealing with something and that is okay. That was music to my ears!
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