The Bottom Line
Parents of young children with egg allergies finally have a good way to start a discussion with their kids. Nadine O'Reilly's Ethan Can't Eat Eggs follows a young boy from first reaction through diagnosis to education about basic allergy safety, all the while stressing that Ethan is a basically healthy and happy child who simply can't eat certain foods. Flowing, fanciful illustrations and chipper tone should mean that toddlers and preschoolers will find this book comforting and enjoyable.
- Helps assure toddlers that allergies are not "their fault" (a common developmental issue)
- Covers many of the most effective ways kids can avoid allergens in a fun way.
- Gives kids good advice about what to do in case of an allergic reaction.
- Would be good to let kids know that future allergic reactions might feel different than their first.
- Rhythm and rhyme are clunky in a couple places. Adults will notice this more than kids, though.
- O'Reilly Publishing
- Aimed at toddlers and preschoolers
- Part of the "Empowered Toddler" Series
Guide Review - Ethan Can't Eat Eggs
Nadine O'Reilly is known for her earlier book Peter Can't Eat Peanuts, and this book is similar in many ways: The young title characters tell their parents about reactions, go to the hospital, learn they have an allergy, and are taught by a parent -- in Peter the mother; in Ethan the father -- how to manage the allergy. Both books stress the emotional side of an allergy diagnosis and the importance of complete avoidance of allergens to stay healthy.
Is this a full text on teaching your toddler to manage an egg allergy? No, nor should parents expect any picture book to be. What this book does do well is to explain from an appealing little boy's perspective the confusing emotions that surround a serious reaction. It also gives several rules that even a small child can remember to keep themselves safe, from learning the spelling of "egg" on packages to never accepting food from friends, and more.
Parents will no doubt have more "family rules" for their kids and lots of discussions about the difficulties of not being able to eat what other kids are eating, among the issues this book doesn't touch on. But as a jumping-off point for discussion and to reinforce allergy safety practices, you'll want to have this in your library. You can also use this book to introduce concepts of allergy safety to kids with allergic friends; after a couple readings, my three-year-old informed me she should never give any of her food to a friend with a food allergy.