Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Nook: The Adventures of Celia Kaye

I recently had the chance to review The Adventures of Celia Kaye, a book designed to help kids understand and talk about celiac disease. Celia Kaye is a relatable character for children, who navigates her own inability to eat the same foods as others by telling all sorts of stories to avoid the truth. This is not an unusual response for kids, so it's easy for them to empathize with Celia, and find their own voice for how to explain their disorder to others.

The author also created a website, Celia Kaye, to help filter through information for reputable, helpful advice and information about celiac disease.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

1) What was the inspiration behind creating this book?

As difficult as it may be for adults to adjust to celiac disease, it must be that much more difficult for children. I wanted to give kids a character that they could relate to, whom they would find fun and exciting, and whom they would trust when she says that it's okay to have allergies, to be different, and even that it's okay to have fun with being different. You never know what children are going to latch on to, so I wanted to create a story and characters that they would remember in situations where they might need to call upon Celia Kaye to get through.

2) Why is it important to write a book about food allergies with kids in mind?

The book was designed not only for children who have food allergies or intolerances, but all children who find Celia Kaye's imagination wild and exciting. The reasoning behind this is that educating children who don't have food allergies is just as important as educating children who do have food allergies. If Cindy (Celia Kaye's friend who doesn't have celiac disease) learns about the things that Celia Kaye can't have, she can become a great support for her friend, and also help Celia Kaye stay on track when things get tough.

3) How can kids talk about their food allergies with other kids?

They can start by sharing "The Adventures of Celia Kaye" with their friends and talking about their favorite parts in the book. Sometimes it's easier to put a layer in between yourself and the thing that's bothering you--in Celia Kaye's case, celiac disease. Using Celia Kaye as that buffer, kids might feel more comfortable talking about it with their friends, and their friends might not even know that they are learning about food allergies as they talk about Martian Crackers.

4) How can parents support kids from other families that may be dealing with food allergies?

Kids with food allergies are just kids. Most of the time, they don't want to be treated very differently than their friends. Being aware without fussing is key, and imparting knowledge about food allergies to their own children will ease the burden of explanation on kids from other families who are dealing with allergies.

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