“The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter” by Sharon Chisvin (author) and Carol Leszcz (illustrator) is a rhyming story for young children about a girl named Sam with a peanut allergy.
- Teaches children about food allergies, by explaining that, as far as peanut butter is concerned: “Sam can’t ever smell it or touch it or taste it … Or cook it or roast it or fry it or bake it”.
- Sets out what might happen to Sam if she ate peanut butter, including that “she wouldn’t feel well … Her tummy would hurt and her tongue might swell …”.
- Carries the key message that, although Sam is sometimes upset that she cannot eat peanut butter, she must remember that “Everyone in class has something special or different that no one else has”.
The first time I tried to read it to D (aged 2 ½), he lost interest after a couple of pages. However, that may have been down to my (lack of) rhythm, rather than the book itself! On the second attempt, he asked for me to read it again … and then again. At the end of the third run through, we talked about how Sam couldn’t eat peanut butter and also that neither could D. In the past, I have sometimes had to say to D “no, you can’t eat that, as it might make you poorly”, but reading this book was the first time we have actually discussed “peanuts”. I think that, if we keep reading the book at regular intervals, it will provide an excellent way of broaching the subject of his allergy as his understanding grows.
The illustrations are – I assume intentionally – childlike. The two that particularly caught D’s eye were:
- The picture of the class. (“What’s dis, mummy?” “It’s the teacher’s necklace”; “Who dis, mummy?” “I think that’s Gil , as he’s wearing glasses” and so on).
- The picture of all the foods that Sam can eat as alternatives to peanut butter. At risk of sounding like a pleb, I think some of the items listed might be lost on a British audience. In the same way as the salami and cherry pie in “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” were new words to me in the early 1980s, I’m sure words like “pumpernickel” and “beef jerky” will be beyond D’s vocabulary for a while yet.
So, all in all, “The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter” was a worthwhile purchase. I ordered my copy directly from the author and the cost (including shipping) equated to around £8, which is comparable to the price of “Cyril the Squirrel”.
If you would like to order a copy, please follow this link: http://members.shaw.ca/schisvin/thegirlpb.html.
If anyone has any recommendations for other children’s books dealing with food allergies, please do let me know.