I am a huge lover of reading! Almost every night before bed, you will find me snuggled up in a blanket with my nose buried in a book. One of my favorite things about reading is that books can take readers to faraway places, on exciting adventures, and maybe even help them learn a little more about others or themselves.
For the estimated 32 million American children who have food allergies, the right book can also be a tool for sharing their diagnosis with others and for learning how to thrive despite food allergies. Today, I’d like to share a new children’s picture book about food allergies authored by Jeni Polido and illustrated by QBN Studios, Eddie Has a Food Allergy: A Hullabaloo at the Midtown Zoo Story.
This is a charming story about an elephant named Eddie, a newcomer to the Midtown Zoo that has a peanut allergy. Upon his arrival, Eddie is relieved to learn he is not the only animal in the zoo with allergies. Fran the flamingo has a shrimp allergy. Lionel the lion cub has a meat allergy. Arni the aardvark has an egg allergy. The exact thing Eddie feared might make him different is now the thing that is making him feel like one of the group. Together, with his new friends, Eddie delights in knowing that food allergy does not define them.
Instead of lamenting their dietary limitations, these new friends celebrate the amazing things they can do. In turn, it inspires the reader to explore their own abilities and how they help them shine. With playful illustrations and a story that unfolds in a fun zoo setting, this children’s picture book offers the reader a wild adventure.
The author, Jeni Polido, helps care for her two young grandsons for several days each week. Both boys have food allergies and as a self-published author twice over, she was drawn to the idea of creating a new story for the animals of Midtown Zoo. As she and her daughter researched food allergies, Polido was dismayed to learn about how many children with food allergies are bullied and tormented. She decided to counteract the potential bullying her grandsons could one day face by building their self-esteem with Eddie and his friends and their realizations that they are so much more than the food allergies they have been diagnosed with.
Polido is one example of a growing number of individuals looking to make food allergies a comfortable topic of conversation between parents, their children, and others via children’s literature. (By entering the term “book” in the search bar on my blog, you can find a list of other book reviews I have done.) This growing community is taking steps to help individuals that have food allergies bridge the gap within families, classrooms, churches, and other organizations.
“To other aspiring children’s book authors,” Polido says, “I say, ‘Go for it!’ I wrote this book with only the hope to empower, inform, and delight and I am humbled and gratified when others tell me it resonates with them and their children.”
To connect with Polido on Instagram, visit @hullabaloo stories.