Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy & Peanut Allergies?
Over the last several years, we have had the opportunity to meet extraordinary people doing incredible work to protect the health of the American children. Most have been inspired into it after the health of one of their own children began to fail, but some, like the author of a new children’s book called The Princess and the Peanut, got involved without a call to action that came in the form of a autism, allergy, diabetes or cancer diagnosis. They simply got involved because of their love for children. They are extraordinary and inspiring examples of how together, we can restore the health of our children, one day, one meal, one family at a time.
Written by Sue Ganz-Schmit of www.royalallergic.com
The very first question I get when I speak about my new book The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Tale is: “Are your kids allergic to peanuts? Or is it you?”
The short answer is neither my kids nor I have peanut allergies.
The longer answer is this: neither my kids nor I, nor my husband, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nor any relative that I am aware of have had peanut allergies, nor any food allergies.
Either way, they get a confused look as to why I would have possibly chosen such a subject for my second children’s book.
Writing medically inspired children’s books fulfills, both a dream and a mission: to be a writer and to help people (especially kids).
When my first daughter arrived, I wrote when I could. I lived in an isolated mountain neighborhood, and knew few of my neighbors. Motherhood was lonely until I founded a baby group. We parents connected deeply, clinging to each other during those early and exhausting months and years.
Then one, two, three families in our group had the shock of medical diagnoses for their beautiful and healthy children: Leukemia, Diabetes, Epilepsy.
I fumbled around for what to do to help them. Parenthood was hard enough with all the odds stacked in your favor. These families needed support. I learned how to test blood sugar, ran a marathon for Team In Training to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma, and I searched the Internet for supportive resources.
I discovered a dearth of children’s books for these medical challenges. So, I decided to write my first book: Even Superheroes Get Diabetes. My goal was to educate, inspire, and empower kids with type 1 diabetes and those around them. I knew I’d have to publish it myself, as large publishers see children’s medical issues as ‘niche markets’. They were looking for the next Harry Potter, and this wasn’t going to be it.
A few years later, I met a mom in our community whose daughter had a severe peanut/nut allergy. I watched her operate in a world of hyper-vigilance. I read an article from another mom about the challenges at play dates and birthday parties. Their day-to-day experiences stuck with me, and I knew this would be my second book topic.
When the letter went out in Kindergarten to please bring in peanut-free foods, our small community of parents was largely supportive. But some weren’t. One parent (who happened to be a nurse) spread rumors that the parent was being dramatic about the severity of the allergy. It simply wasn’t life threatening she told others. Undermining a parent’s effort to keep their child safe baffled me.
Before I released my new book, I was discussing a possible radio interview and was told, be prepared, because the host and her celebrity husband don’t believe in peanut allergies. This sent my head spinning. It was as if people have a choice to believe in peanut allergies, like they do with Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy.
Not so. As parents with allergy-free and healthy children (knock wood three times), we are not off the hook. We don’t get to turn and look away, and be inconvenienced by another child’s medical challenge, even if our super-fussy kid’s favorite sandwich happens to be PB&J (like mine was), and we have to read the fine print on labels at our favorite grocer. Everyone’s priority must be to keep kids healthy and alive.
We are all in this together. The greater the awareness and compassion, the faster we can come together to learn why six million kids now have food allergies, a number that has tripled since 1997. And, why diabetes, ADD, autism, and other childhood maladies are on the rise.
The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Fairytale
Written by: Sue Ganz-Schmitt Illustrated by: Micah Chambers-Goldberg
$22.95 hardcover/$15.95 softcover
Available now on Amazon.com and other online retailers.
For more information visit: www.royallyallergic.com