“The No Biggie Bunch” Book Review and Giveaway!!

Recently, while I was “tweeting” (on Twitter) about Sam going through some social “celiac growing pains,” I got a tweet back from @NoBiggieBunch about a book series for children called “The No Biggie Bunch.” Intrigued, I went to the website and checked it out. I got excited because it appeared as though the book series addressed the very topics I was trying to work through with Sam!

The No Biggie Bunch book series, co-authored by Kerry McManama and Heather Mehra is about a group of kids, who (all but one) have a different food allergy:

Greta: “Allergic” to Gluten (Yes, the authors know that celiac disease not an “allergy,” but this is the best way for kids to understand the concept. Six-year-olds can have a hard enough time saying “autoimmune disease,” let alone trying to EXPLAIN it! 😉 Besides, many other groups of kids are on the gluten-free diet for reasons other than celiac disease, so the term “allergy” is a simple, all-inclusive term to get the point across.).

Scotty: Allergic to Soy,

Paige: Allergic to Peanuts,

Davis: Allergic to Dairy,

Elliott: Allergic to Egg,

Natalie: No Food Allergies.

Here is a summary from The No Biggie Bunch Website:

The No Biggie Bunch is a diverse group of kids who handle the social challenges of food allergies with poise and panache.

The adventures of Davis, Natalie, Paige, Elliot, Scotty and Greta are neither technical nor medical. Their stories are meant to act as springboards for conversation among children, parents, teachers, friends and family members.

The No Biggie Bunch doesn’t speak about limitations or medications. They focus on allergen-free celebrations and smart preparation.

Focus on Fun and all you can do and pretty soon, you will be saying “No Biggie” too.

Kerry sent me a complimentary copy of the Sports-Tastic Birthday Party book to read with Sam then review on my blog. When the book arrived, the first thing Sam noticed were the illustrations by Michael Kline. Sam loved the animated characters, the bright colors, and of course the fact that the story involved sports!

We sat down to read the book and I was pleased to see that the story is simple enough that a beginning reader (like Sam) can actually read the story with just a little bit of assistance (which I think made Sam like the book even more!).

The Sports-Tastic Birthday Party is about “The No Biggie Bunch” having fun at Scotty’s birthday party. The book opens with the kids playing a game of soccer at Scotty’s party then moves to issue at hand… cake time. The story details how the kids each handled their individual allergies when it came time for the cake. Each of the characters in the book took turns showing their friends what each of them brought for their treat. The treats weren’t just gluten-free, peanut-free, etc. versions of cupcakes either, they brought other types of treats as well! Sam really took to that idea and thought he would like to take something different to a future party as well! We sat there are talked about all the different possibilities, like Surf Sweets Gummy Worms! I was so excited to see Sam take some control over his gluten-free diet!! 😀

This is a very inclusive concept for a food allergy book.  The kids are not only diverse in their food allergies, but ethnically, racially, and gender differentiated as well.  In a way, the food allergies are presented as just another “difference” that we all have, whether we are boys or girls, black or white, allergic or not.  Again and again we see that all of it is “No Biggie!” I would love to see another book along these lines, but addressing how a single allergic child copes at a birthday party with non-allergic kids, which probably happens more often than not. I think the authors have come up with a great premise, that the food part of the party is “no big deal,” fun and friendships are the priority.  I also like that the book is simple. It is easy for children to read and understand the overall point. I think the The No Biggie Bunch book series can be a great way to inspire food allergic children to come up with their own ways of navigating social situations that involve food.

There are multiple take-aways from this book for parents like us who are confronted with this all the time.  First and foremost, this is a great book for your allergic kiddo, it helped Sam to realize that he is not alone on this journey (even if it seems so at times). Second, at least one of these books should bought and donated to your child’s class on the first day of school (a very well spent $15, if you ask me), I’m actually going to buy all four and donate them to Sam’s School Library.  I think most teachers would love to read a book like this to their class with great pictures, lots of sight words, and a compassionate story.

There are currently four books in the series, each retailing for $14.99:

Kerry McManama has graciously offered me a copy of the Sports-Tastic Birthday Party to give to one of my readers! WOO-HOO!!

To enter for a chance to win a free copy of The No Biggie Bunch’s Sports-Tastic Birthday Party:

First, leave a comment to this post about how you and your child “creatively cope” with birthday parties when it comes to cake and ice cream (even pizza). I have shared some of my own ideas in previous blog posts, but I am always looking for new inspiration!

Second, You also need to do at least one of the following (but I encourage you to do them all, especially the first one to help our kiddos!!):

Food allergies are a big deal, but living with them doesn’t have to be.

We will employ the creative coping concepts, great attitude & ready response The No Biggie Bunch is known for on the page & bring it to life – in an animated film!

Food allergies in children continue to rise and the fear of the unknown grows with it. Kids with food allergies learn & adjust quickly, but it’s their peers and other parents, teachers & family members that need to be educated.

Our goal is to produce a film to be distributed to all grade schools in the U.S., becoming a vital part of every school health program. School children can bring home their new knowledge and communication techniques, share it with their families & start the food allergy safety conversation.

Although the film will cover serious medical content, it will be delivered on a kid’s level. Education through entertainment – it’s the No Biggie Bunch way!

Bonus: A reasonably priced, downloadable iTunes version.

Using a Random Number Generator, I will pick the winner next Friday, March 12, 2010.

Good Luck (and vote for the No Biggie Film Project!!!) 😀

15 Responses

  1. This is awesome! My daughter at two is still too little to really understand that she has Celiac let alone that it will single her out in life. But I would love to add this to our library! I became a fan on FB and voted!! And urged others to as well 😉 I realize I just won one of your giveaways, and with my daughter still so young this book might be better sent to a child who understands, but I still wanted to show support! It is so important!! Thanks for the review. I am going to add the whole set to my “wish list”!

  2. My son is only 2 years old, so we are just approaching the stage where he’ll start going to birthday parties and the like. I’m planning to just have a ready supply of cupcakes in the freezer to pull out and bring along (or a fresh supply, if it works out!), and see how it goes. My son is really into books right now and is becoming very aware of the fact that there are safe foods and not-safe foods (which I’m really surprised by), so I have actually been thinking about looking for a book like this, so thanks for reviewing this book! I voted for them on the Pepsi project and I became a fan on Facebook too.

  3. My 10 year old grandson has Celiac disease, he was diagnosed at 4, so we have been dealing with birthday parties for awhile, if its his party, the cupcakes are GF, he gets his own Amy’s Gluten Free Pizza, guests get pizza from the pizza parlor.
    When he goes to a party, my DIL packs pizza and his own cupcake, he is so used to this he never complains. I would love to win the book to donate to his school library.

  4. I always make sure I bring 2 or 3 cupcakes – decorated to the hilt. I am experimenting with Fruit by the Foot to make roses. I always bring a pizza with us and plenty of snacks – some of her favorites – Dots, Starburts, SmartPopcorn, and lolipops so that when the gift bags come out she will have the same stuff.

    I have become Fan of the books on Facebook, and I look forward to adding them to our collection – “Lunch with Quinn,” “No More Cupcakes & Tummy Aches,” “Eating Gluten Free with Emily,” and the “GF Kid.”

  5. I have just come across these books and think they are a great idea! My children are allergic to food colouring, artificial flavouring, apples, oranges as well as many environmental things (we live in a scent / chemical free house). They have been taking their own juice and cupcakes to parties and playdates for a couple of years but my oldest is started to feel “left out” because he always has something special. I have Celiac as well as a long list of other allergies so it’s always a challange to go anywhere! I am really looking forward to getting my hands on these books so my kids no that they are not alone! Thanks

  6. As a preschool teacher I have several children in my classes with various food allergies. I am trying to teach tolerance and compassion for others with food allergies by teaching my three and four year olds to ask the question (before we eat snack or cook) “is this food safe for our friend Samantha/Estevan”. It’s a small thing but I hope it helps especially when they get to elementary school to be more tolerant. Since being diagnosed with celiac a year ago, I also share my challenges with the children.

  7. With two young children with mutiple food allergies and celiac between the two of them, we never go to a party (or sometimes it seems even out of the house) wtihout a diner in the diaper bag! We keep “safe” frozen cupcakes in the freezer and bring plenty of containers of snacks and even juice boxes.

    The books look like they are very well done, the idea of sending one into my son’s school to add to their class library is a good one.

  8. This would be a wonderful book to have. My daughter loves her Eating GF with Emily. I sent it to school with her and it really helped. There is another child in her class with food allergies so it would help him out also. For school we have cupcakes frozen at the school for emergency parties (she is 6). If I know about the party, I will make her a special cupcake to take to school with her. We have only encountered one pizza party since she was diagnosed and since I live in a very rural community and didn’t have access to GF pizza crust at the time, I made her a mexican pizza on a corn tostado shell taht she took.

  9. Wow! What inspiring ideas. Just like you, Heather and I know necessity truly is the “mother” of invention — and you all embody that. It’s great to be part of such a dynamic community and we appreciate all of your creative coping techniques.

    A big(gie) thanks to Heidi for her fantastic review!

    • Hi Kerry!!

      Thanks for leaving a comment! Aren’t these some WONDERFUL ideas?

      Can I ask how it came about that you wrote this book series about creatively coping with food allergies? Do you have personal experience with food allergies?

      I also cannot thank you enough for working on an educational video for teachers and children alike regarding food allergies (and gluten intolerance), it is desperately needed!! I read a heartbreaking story the other day from a mom whose celiac daughter had an experience at school where a boy didn’t want to sit near her for fear of catching her “disease” (celiac). It really makes me wonder how teachers handle those types of situations, if they probe further and try to educate or dismiss it all together?

      Dealing with a food allergy or intolerance (like gluten) can be such an educational experience altogether. Teaching kids how to work as a team and “think outside the box” when it comes to certain activities like say… Friday Fun Snack (I will use my own recent experience in this example). A teacher could ask the kids for suggestions of an alternative to Pretzel Rods that could be used in making a “Magic Wand!” 🙂 Say, subbing real carrots (the long carrots) for the pretzel and hummus for the chocolate… maybe technically, it is not as much “fun” as chocolate dipped pretzels, but it would be healthier, Sam could have been included and the kiddos would have seen a healthy snack in a much “cooler” format (which from my experience, kids seem more apt to try new things and accept them when they are with their peers versus at home with their parents at the dinner table!).

      Just a thought… 😀

  10. These books look adorable!!

    The best thing I have done to cope with birthdays is to get a single cupcake holder. It is really cute and holds a cupcake in place, so I can hand it to the teacher or another mom. For somewhere around $7 for two of them, it has really made things easier!

    • where did you find the single cupcake holder? That would really be a lifesaver! I am tired of my cupcakes falling over against the container I take them in.

  11. This looks like a great series of books! We are always looking for things that the kids can relate to and share with their friends. We are just beginning our GF journey and it is interesting to find things like this that will be a big help!
    I would love to win that book giveaway 🙂

  12. Parties are hard enough for adults with allergies, since we have to pretend we’re enjoying ourselves even when the main entertainment is food we can’t eat. For kids it can be even harder, since they may not even have any idea what the problem is with the food. I like to have something with some pizzazz to take that isn’t trying resemble the real thing (most people don’t want to share my gluten-free cake anyway), so I take a beautiful fruit and dip tray, or colorful veggie tray, or maybe something from the olive bar or the candy counter. No one seems to mind not having gluten in those. Or maybe I’d offer to help with some decorating instead of bringing food — that’s a valuable contribution, too, and makes quite an impression.

  13. My 2 1/2 year old was diagnosed with celiac last summer. He seems to understand that he can’t have just any food and some foods are “special” foods that are good for his tummy. The other day, my husband was checking the nutritional values of shredded cheese and our son says “It’s gluten free, daddy, I can have it.”
    For his last birthday, we had a gluten free cake which tasted just like a regular one. I have made flourless cupcakes before by using chickpeas instead of four and they were delicious. As far as holiday celebrations or birthdays, we try to ask ahead of time what the special treat will be and then try to get one for him that is similar.

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