March 5, 2012

Book Review: The Best Audience: A Lesson about Food Allergies for Young Children

After publishing my post on how to do a class presentation on food allergies, I was contacted by an allergy advocate and author from Ontario, Canada, who had taken notice of my post.  She introduced herself to me as a mom who has a food-allergic son just like myself and informed me that she has been doing classroom presentations ever since 1995!  Her name is Diana Brock and she is the author of The Best Audience which was published last year.  Diana's peanut-allergic son Evan, who illustrated the book with older brother David, is now in college and lives away from home where he successfully manages his food allergies on his own.

In the story Mrs. Brock comes to a classroom to speak about food allergies.  She engages the children in a simple interactive dialogue where she appears to employ the Socratic Method by asking the children questions to help get them thinking.  Although Mrs. Brock focuses on food allergies she also brings to light the existence of other allergies such as environmental and bee sting allergies.  In a gentle and clear way Mrs. Brock covers the key concepts of what allergies are exactly, why food allergies should be taken seriously, and what steps need to be taken in the event that a reaction occurs.  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to parents and educators alike.  Reading this book alone to the class will definitely cover the key points of food allergies. Mrs. Brock poses questions to the children that definitely help to start a conversation about food allergies.  I also think it would pair well with a food allergy book that touches on the emotional aspect of having food allergies such as Food Allergies and Me that highlights the fact that having food allergies is just an element of a whole person and not the whole.  Because I did a classroom presentation myself, it's a neat thing to be able to see yourself in a character in book like I did in Mrs. Brock.  I give this book two thumbs up. 

To purchase the book, check out FAAN's online store or buy directly from Diana Brock's The Best Audience website.  This book would make a great gift for teachers and school librarians!

It was quite neat to know that although Diana and I are in different stages of motherhood, our paths remain parallel in our aim to raise food allergy awareness in schools. It goes to show that food allergy language is universal not just across the world, but across time.

As a food allergy mom who is always looking for new educational resources, I want to thank you, Diana Brock, for reaching out to me and for introducing to us, the food allergy community, your book and your wisdom.

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