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Book Review: Can You? A Food Allergy Story

When author Emily Duty reached out asking if we would like to read and review her new food allergy book, there was no hesitation! I had seen some posts about the book and already knew it was going to be good.

About the Author

Emily is a story-loving, karaoke-singing, chocolate-indulging wife and mother from sunny South Florida. When she isn’t busy dancing in her living room or baking up allergy-friendly cookies, she’s likely crafting or cleaning.

What Inspired You to Become Authors?

Growing up, I always wanted to be an author. I often carried around notebooks to jot down poems and short stories.

As a young adult, I worked up the courage to share some of them with my friends and family. They said they loved them all and encouraged me to continue. Maybe they had to say that because they were my friends and family- ha! But either way, I did stick with it because I found a lot of enjoyment in crafting words and expressing myself.

When my son’s were diagnosed with food allergies, I knew writing could be my superpower; a way to help spread important awareness with others. For years though, I struggled to come up with a good idea and it frustrated me to no end. Why was writing a children’s book so haaaarrrrrdddd? Finally, I gave it a rest.

Until one day, it just sort of hit me. I like to say my first character spoke to me because she really did. For no reason at all, this one line popped in my head and I couldn’t stop saying it over and over. “Hiya, I’m Maya.” “Hiya, I’m Maya.” “Hiya, I’m Maya.”

Maya wanted me to know she was with me and she wasn’t going to stop introducing herself until I let her OUT.

So, I sat down at the computer to type up that single silly line and the rest poured out of me. For over an hour, I feverishly clacked away on the keyboard until I realized I had a whole story. That’s when I read it out loud to my husband, who teared up and told me I was holding my very first book. Then, he asked me what I was going to do with it.

I called the publisher the next day!

Why This Book?

I have two sons with food allergies. Throughout the years, they have each taken turns struggling with being different because of them. They want so badly to be like other kids.

This book is my way of bringing important awareness to the topic of food allergies, but it’s also me letting my guys know they already are like their friends. Yes, they have safe foods but they are kids too. They can be goofy and have fun, and they can shoot for the same stars as everyone else.

What Have You Enjoyed Most About Writing and/or Publishing?

Writing a story, imagining my characters and then watching an illustrator bring it all to life has been the most exciting experience! Oh, how I wish I could draw!

My illustrator did a fantastic job, too! The bright colors all throughout the pages bring me so much joy. I hope other people feel the same happiness when they are flipping through them.

What is Something That Has Surprised You During Your Book Publishing Journey?

The most surprising part of my self-publishing journey is … I’ve survived the process! Because, woooo weeeee, it has been a lengthy one.

Every time I thought I might die from the wait, I managed to hang in there for a little bit longer. Patience has never been my strong suit! I had to exercise that muscle more than I wanted, but the outcome was worth it.

What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Authors?

Dear Aspiring Authors,

Don’t be discouraged! Maybe you haven’t discovered your great idea …yet. Keep writing, anyway. It’s there, I promise. If you feel like you’re meant to tell a story - you are!

As soon as a word or a phrase pops into your mind, HOP UP, jot it down, and see where it takes you.

Book Description: When Maya first meets a new boy at a party, she thinks his habits are a little strange—especially when it comes to eating. After the new boy explains that he has food allergies, Maya starts asking questions, and she learns that they have more in common than she thought.

(Katie) Cover Review: The cover is so inviting, vibrant, and I especially loved that it's both a boy and girl. Of course I also immediately recognized the red sneakers! If you're not familiar with Red Sneakers for Oakley, it's an amazing non-profit focused on creating awareness and education around food allergies.

(Kids) Cover Review:

(8-yr-old): I love that they are dancing!

(5-yr-old): I like the boy's shoes.

(Katie) Story Review: So often with books, especially about food allergies, there is the portrayal of what kids can't eat or have. It is important to note that, but what I love about this book is that Emily put the focus on everything that he CAN have, which turns out to be much more than people realize. I also appreciate that it was written in a curious tone, very similar to how a child would ask or inquire, making it very relatable for young kids.

The overall message is very heartwarming, reminding readers that kids are kids and that we usually always have more in common than not. An important message that extends beyond just food allergies, but to life in general.

(Kids) Story Review:

(8-yr-old): I LOVED IT. Because the boy is kind of like me. He has a food allergy bracelet and he's allergic to milk and eggs, too. I like the girl because she's really curious and she asks a lot of questions and I'm curious and like to ask questions too.

My favorite part was that he didn't hide that he had food allergies and he was brave for telling her when she asked. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to be left out if I tell people, but this makes me know I won't if I share.

I also really liked them being silly together. I think this book teaches people that you're perfect the way you are and you don't have to hide anything.

(5-yr-old): Same as I really loved that he was a boy and that he could skateboard. I really like the pictures.

I think this book teaches people that you don't have to be scared.

(Katie) Overall: Everything from the colorful and cute illustrations to the message was spot on with this book. I enjoyed the rhyming, which helps keep attention and kudos to that because rhyming books are hard to write! I also enjoyed that the main character is a boy, which shows my son, who also has food allergies, that he's not alone.


Interested in adding Can You? A Food Allergy Story to your library? Book details and where you can find it are listed below!

Title: Can You? A Food Allergy Story

Author: Emily Duty

Publisher: Hybrid

Details: Hardcover, 38 pages

Currently available at: Mascot Books, Amazon

Website: Mascot Books

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