"The Peanut-Free Cafe" shares the story of Grant, a new child at Nutley School, that is severely allergic to peanuts. He and his mother are rather surprised to learn that everyone eats peanut butter for lunch at Nutley School. When offered a bite, Grant explains to his new friends that even a little bit of a peanut can make Grant so sick that he has to get a shot when his airway becomes compromised. The kids, particularly a boy named Simon, are alarmed that peanut butter could make anyone so sick.
Mrs. Filbert, the principle, debates about the safest way to keep Grant safe but still allow the other children to eat their favorite lunch. She settles on sitting up a peanut-free table in another room. Unfortunately Grant sits alone at the table the first few days. Mrs. Filbert is very upset until Simon suggests that they make the peanut-free table a fun place to sit. Mrs. Filbert whole-heartedly agrees.
The next day, children file into the now termed "Peanut-Free Cafe" to eat their peanutless lunches and watch one of their favorite movies. Only two boys aren't willing to give up their peanut lunches, Simon and Paul. The next day, however, Paul wants to watch the movie and opts for pizza instead. This leaves Simon alone with his peanut butter sandwich. Finally, peer pressure gets the best of him and he, too, joins The Peanut Free Cafe minus his normal peanut butter.
A Commentary This book was an excellent conversation starter for Tyler and me. We talked about how peanut butter makes him sick but how some people can eat it. My favorite part of the whole book was when Grant pulled his EpiPen out to show the other children. Tyler got very excited and said, "Look! An Epi shot!" He was excited to see a character in a book needed one, just like him. After that, he was very engaged. If the peanut allergic child, Grant, was not on a particular page, he inquired where he was. Seeing Grant with an EpiPen made Tyler truly love that character.
This book is for children ages 4-8 and I agree with that age designation. Tyler will not be four until January but I felt he could handle the material due to the fact that his reaction on June 30 was to peanut butter. As a result, the message really resonated with him. Before his reaction, he did not understand his allergy. The constant mention of peanut butter and many child eating it might have actually made it look appetizing to him. That would be very counter-productive.
I recommend this book to an older preschooler or above, unless like Tyler, your child had a recent reaction to peanut butter and fully understands what the reaction was a result of.
More than anything, this book starts conversations. It allowed Tyler and I to talk about it without him feeling like Mom was lecturing. It would also be an excellent book for children who don't have a peanut allergy but have a friend or family member who does. It would help them understand that, although they can eat peanut butter, other children can become very ill from it.
I highly recommend this book to reinforce what you and your PA Kid have already discussed. It's important they understand others can eat peanut butter but are also willing to make accommodations to keep them safe.
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