According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s website, there are nearly six million children living with food allergies in the United States. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology cites the National Center for Health Statistics in a 2008 publication showing that the occurrence of food allergies among children increased by 18% between 1997 and 2007. If you think about it, the statistics are horrifying – and they are only going to get worse. What was once rare and seldom heard of has made itself widely known throughout our doctors’ offices, schoolyards, and neighborhood homes.
In the last decade, scads of books have been published to educate, help, and even console children with food allergies. I recently had the opportunity to read The Princess and the Peanut written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and to speak with her via email. I am both intrigued and inspired by Ms. Ganz-Schmitt’s passion for helping children around the world. “From early on,” she wrote to me, “I had a yearning to write children’s books and to help people.” Her career temporarily took her away from that yearning, but she eventually left her role as an international businesswoman to write books and pursue her desire to be an advocate for children.
Her inspiration for writing The Princess and the Peanut came out of a baby group she initiated when she was a new mom looking to meet other moms. When some of those families were confronted with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses, Sue Ganz-Schmitt was inspired by the ability of the mothers “to empower (their) child(ren) in the face of an illness.” There was a lack of resources available to these families, and Sue Ganz-Schmitt became determined to help by filling the void with her educational and entertaining books. The illustrations, created by Micah Chambers-Goldberg, contribute to the allure of The Princess and the Peanut and help tell the stories Ms. Ganz-Schmitt has created.
The Princess and the Peanut converts a classic fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea, into an engaging story about overcoming food allergies. In this version, the prince – who loves peanut butter and jelly - is in search of a real princess. His efforts to find love are fruitless until a young, lost maiden shows up at the castle door. She arrives at the door of the Palace dripping wet from the storm raging outside. The storm had separated her from her parents while they were horseback riding through the forest. The Queen takes her in to wait out the storm and decides to test whether this young woman is truly a princess. She does not have any peas to slip under the mattress (a sure test as to whether or not someone is a princess), so she uses a peanut instead.
Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Our young princess is allergic to peanuts! The Palace doctor had to be summoned. The Princess was covered in hives, needed an epinephrine injection, and had to endure skin testing to assess her allergies. In the meantime, the prince was falling in love with the princess, and there were some changes he needed to make – the first being – no more peanut butter!
This is a wonderful and engaging story with several empowering messages of encouragement, education, and compassion. Readers will discover that sometimes we give up things we like in order to protect someone we love. Children with allergies and their parents will realize that they can overcome hurdles and don’t have to be held back by their allergies. Everyone will close this book inspired with compassion for other people and their struggles and knowing the world is a better place when we help each other.
The Princess and the Peanut is a wonderful book for parents to read to their children, for schools to use in their classrooms, and for doctor’s offices to have on hand in the waiting room. Sue Ganz-Schmitt achieves success in her mission to assist children facing this medical challenge, and her efforts will continue to increase food allergy awareness, understanding, and concern. A portion of the proceeds from this book goes to the causes Sue Ganz-Schmitt writes about. Any profit is reinvested in her company to create additional books to help medically challenged families.
I truly enjoyed this book and am greatly impacted by its message. I hope you will be too!
I received a review copy of this book free of charge.