I was so excited when I heard about this book, and not just because Katie was the main character! I was excited because there was another food allergy book written for children! For a medical condition that affects 1 in 13 children, you'd think there would be lots of books covering this subject, but that just isn't the reality. But with this book and the others I have recently reviewed, I can see that is changing for the better!
I was able to join author Katherine A. Kise on her launch day and hear from her personally on her dedication to spreading awareness and empowering children with food allergies and I know this book is only the beginning.
About the Author
Board-certified health and wellness coach Katherine Kise helps others live and thrive. As a child, Katherine suffered from a severe nut allergy and asthma. As an adult, she developed additional allergies, auto-immune imbalances, and chronic illnesses, despite a "healthy" and active lifestyle. She saw a menagerie of doctors who dealt with her symptoms, yet none effectively managed her illnesses' underlying root causes.
Katherine began building a knowledge base of holistic health practices and resources that eventually helped her uncover the underlying causes of her health issues and overcome them. She wanted to help others to the same so she achieved national board certification for health coaching and established Sprout and Rosebud, a holistic health coaching business. Today, Katherine educates children, young adults, and professionals about health and wellness, translating mysterious, often intimidating health concepts into accessible and relatable tips that reach beyond the plate and into every facet of life.
Katherine’s first book, Katie Can't Eat Nuts is a story that follows Katie's extraordinary life, revealing a strong and feisty girl who plays soccer, takes ballet, and happens to be allergic to nuts. Delightfully told with gorgeous illustrations and fun activities, Katie's story normalizes food allergies and enables families to discuss and confront food sensitivities.
What Inspired You to Become Authors?
I feel like it’s in my bones, or my DNA. I have always dabbled in writing – whether short stories or poetry, and I have always been a reader with an unquenchable love of books! A common utterance at bed time growing up was, “Just let me finish this chapter!”
Books for me are a wonderful way to explore ideas (whether our own ideas or others’), cultivate connection, empower ourselves and creatively express our experiences of the world. I didn’t know I would write Katie Can’t Eat Nuts, but I did know I wanted to contribute to the world in a meaningful way that left the world better than I found it. Writing – whether blog posts, contributing content, or books! - has been a wonderful way for me to do that!
Why This Book?
As a child, I grew up with food allergies and also asthma. As an adult, my health journey evolved to include navigating other challenges that weren’t common. I noticed an absence of accessible information around important health topics and conditions, in general, and particularly around food allergies, which, unfortunately, is becoming more common every year. For instance, in 2008, the CDC reported 3MM children suffered from food allergies. In the most recent report, it’s estimated that 5.6MM children have food allergies.
I felt motivated to create – or contribute to – a solution, which for me, took shape as Katie Can’t Eat Nuts, a way to plant seeds of conversations amongst friends and within families and communities.
What Have You Enjoyed Most About Writing and/or Publishing?
The creative process was incredibly enriching and rewarding. I really enjoyed iterating on the content of the book, and I delighted in creating an incredible team who has enabled Katie to come to life!
What is Something That Has Surprised You During Your Book Publishing Journey?
It takes a lot longer than I expected, and it is a worthwhile, fulfilling adventure nonetheless! There has been incredible time and energy invested in the details of the actual production of the book that I underestimated, as well, but has also been very educational.
What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Authors?
Keep writing and publish however you can if you feel called to! I remember a scene from Sister Act II that always stuck with me. Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Sister Mary Clarence, tells Lauryn Hill’s character, “If you wake up in the morning, and you can't think of anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl.” If an aspiring author is inspired and impassioned by writing and publishing, and it feeds his/her soul, s/he must pursue it!
Book Description: Katie is a girl who loves to play soccer. She's a ballerina, too. And she happens to be allergic to nuts. Join her to learn about how she lives her amazing life and, oh, happens to have an allergy, too. This delightful book, with gorgeous illustrations and fun activities, enables parents and children to have a discussion about food allergies.
(Katie) Cover Review: I love the cover and how colorful Katie is and all the different foods in the background. I also really love the attention to detail in the font choices and design for the title.
(Kids) Cover Review:
(7-yr-old): I like that is has food on it! The character looks nice.
(Katie) Story Review: So I have to begin by saying, personally, I loved Katie because, you know . . . I'm Katie AND I played soccer growing up and also had severe asthma. Although I do not have food allergies. I really enjoyed throughout the story how Katherine intertwined Katie's food allergies with all her other activities - being a ballerina, making food with her dad, going on picnics, and oh, she also has food allergies. I like how she described how she found out as I think it's important for others to see the different scenarios in which a reaction could occur. What was really cool too was that she brought in other allergies, like gluten and bee stings, educating that there are lots of things (not just food) that people can be allergic to.
I also appreciate that Katherine touched on the emotional aspect of having food allergies and feeling different and highlighting that there are millions of kids with food allergies, so they aren't alone. Food allergies can feel very isolating, so acknowledging that they aren't alone is incredibly supportive for food-allergic children.
I love how she illustrates ways as well that Katie's friends support her and watch out for her. Children pick up on so much and the earlier you can discuss how to be a good friend to others, regardless of their needs, the better and more inclusive world we'll live in.
Our favorite page of the whole book that I wanted to highlight though is page 11 (pictured below). Both Charlie and I loved this page because it didn't focus on what she couldn't have, but what she COULD have, which is so much more. I really like the positive approach Katherine took and including that because it's so important to be grateful for what you can have and focus on that. Charlie's favorite foods on that page were the watermelon and popcorn!
(Kids) Story Review:
(7-yr-old): I really liked that her friends, George and Elsa. They look out for her no matter what. My friends do that, too. I also feel the same way as Katie when I get sick. I feel scared because I don't know if it's a reaction or something else.
My favorite page is with her and all the food she can have. It makes me hungry looking at it!
I really like the activity pages and especially the riddles. My favorite is "What are two things you can never eat for breakfast?" (Answer: Lunch and Dinner).
I would recommend this book to my friend from school who also is allergic to gluten like the boy in this book.
(Katie) Overall: I really loved this book, the character, and the simplicity and sweetness of the story while tackling a tough topic like food allergies. What I loved best was the overall tone of "Yes, I have food allergies, but that's just a part of my life and I'm totally cool with that. Check out these things I love to do!" The uplifting tone with a big side of positivity makes this a wonderful book for any reader, with or without food allergies.
I really enjoyed the illustrations as well and they are a very unique style that I haven't seen before, which caught my attention. Did you know, this is the illustrator's first children's book?! How cool! Alex Ferror has an amazing portfolio of work that can be found in many countries!
BONUS! At the end of the book there are pages of activities for children, including a word search, matching game, hidden pictures, decorate Katie's pancakes, and Charlie's favorite activity - a page of riddles! I love this because when kids engage, they remember and it's built right into the book (although I would recommend using pencil if you want to be able to use the activities more than once).
Interested in adding Katie Can't Eat Nuts to your library? Book details and where you can find it are listed below!
Title: Katie Can’t Eat Nuts: The Ordinary Extraordinary Life of a Girl with Food Allergies
Author: Katherine A. Kise
Suitable for ages: Ages 6 - 12