The No Biggie Bunch is written by Heather Mehra and Kerry McManama. It's about a group of six kids who have different food allergies, with the exception of one. The characters are comprised of Paige who's allergic to Peanuts, Eliot who's allergic to Eggs, Scotty who's allergic to Soy, Davis who's allergic to Dairy, Greta who's allergic to Gluten, and Natalie who has No allergies. Clever and playful, the stories teach kids that with prepared safe snacks and a ready response, the social challenges of food allergies can be easily overcome. The mission of the No Biggie Bunch is as follows(excerpt taken from the books):
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.
As soon as the books arrived, Maya and I sat down to read them. The first thing that caught her eye was the amazing illustrations. With vibrant colours and beautiful artistic style, the book was able to capture her attention for the entire time, from start to finish. Maya particularly loved the Dairy-Free Dino-licious Dig, not only because she is allergic to dairy, but also because she absolutely LOVES anything dinosaur related. She was so excited as we read the story together and her eyes just lit up when she saw the picture of the dinosaur. She kept pointing at all the pretty pictures and most importantly she understood the story, which brings me to the next point. I liked the fact that the stories are simple, straightforward, and very engaging.
Another thing that I think is absolutely brilliant is the subtle but powerful image on the inside front flap which displays Nutritional Facts, and whimsically lists Ingredients and Contains warnings. It looks exactly like the label you would find on any food product, and it really gets kids familiar with the idea of reading labels and what they look like. In fact, I think that this should have been included in the actual book because sometimes the flap can be lost but the idea itself proves how much thought and care went into creating those books.
Last but not least, is the quality of the paper and the fact that the book is in hardcover. I love children's books that are in hardcover because it makes them more durable. The paper does not feel cheap and has a nice glossy look to it which makes the illustrations more appealing, not that they needed any help in that department. Even I thought the illustrations were great, and I'm an adult. Maya fell in love with the books from the moment she looked at the first picture.
The No Biggie Bunch series is a fantastic addition to any kid's library. For children with food allergies, I think it's essential. It teaches kids that anyone can have a food allergy, that it's not ethnicity or gender specific and most importantly, that they are not alone, that others suffer from food allergies as well. The books really put emphasis on the fact that although allergies make us different, they don't make us any less special, that although allergies are serious, it is possible to overcome the social challenges. What I like most about the series, is the inclusion of everyone, those who are allergic and those who aren't and the premise that food does not have to be the focus of any gathering, but that it is more important to focus on family, friends, and all the other good and fun things you can do.
In summary, the style of the books is very simple and direct with great illustrations. My 3 year old understood the stories as I read them to her. It teaches kids to take control of their allergies and promotes their creativity by displaying how the characters are able to handle their allergies in different social settings that involve food. At $14.99 US each, the books are invaluable and a worthy addition to your child's collection. I intend to buy the entire collection for my little girl, and there is already some talk within our local community about suggesting the series for school classrooms and daycare facilities. As far as I know, the books can be ordered through Amazon.com though the prices of shipping and customs make it quite expensive for Canadian consumers and that's the only complaint I have. I really would like to see the books sold through Canadian bookstores. Other than that, the books are perfect. The fact that Maya would not put them down and asked me to read them to her over and over again is typically a sure sign that they have become a big hit.
Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, the author has provided me with the entire series, free of charge, to review and pass along to the local allergy community as well as the AAIA.