Just like a spoonful of sugar can help the medicine go down, sometimes a good story and some bright illustrations can make it more fun for kids to digest information about their health – or the health of others. These three books touch on wildly different topics, but all seek to deliver their dose of learning with a bit of sweetness.
Breathless Bethany Buttercup
First up is Breathless Bethany Buttercup by Tolya L. Thompson. This rainbow of a tale (thanks to bold and gorgeous illustration by Curt Walstead) introduces readers to Bethany Rose Buttercup, a girl who loves to draw, dance and twirl – and enjoy the spring sunshine with her friends. When Bethany’s asthma gets in her way, despite the help of her quick-relief inhaler, Bethany’s amazingly blue-eyed doctor offers a solution: a new type of inhaler that Bethany uses every day. The story, published by the nonprofit Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics and sponsored by pharmaceutical manufacturer Shering-Plough, rhymes its way to a happy ending, followed by some basic information for parents on childhood asthma.
The book, and lots of fantastic asthma and allergy info, is available FREE at www.breatherville.org.
The Alley Pal Adventures
Taking on the huge issue of childhood obesity is The Alley Pal Adventures: Healthy Choices by Cassy Eng, R.N. The tale follows a happy-go-lucky mutt, an intellectual cat and a lazy little mouse as they learn about nutrition and physical activity by observing the elementary school near their alley home. Seeing how one overweight boy eats only junk food – and then can’t keep up with his playmates – gives the trio a chance to ponder the problems of their own overweight rodent pal.
A year-end school relay race advertised on a flier presents a possible get-healthy challenge for the boy and the mouse. But because this is the first of a series, readers will have to wait for the second installment to find out how the two fare in the race. This sweet, self-published book ends with the MyPyramid nutrition and activity guidelines from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. You can find it for $15.99 on www.booksurge.com.
My Cancer Mommy
My Cancer Mommy by Taylor Rice is a soft and gentle portrait of a mom with cancer through the eyes of her little girl (and the illustrations of Olga Matushkina). In this first-person account, 7-year-old Taylor talks about her fears when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, what it was like when her mother had surgery and chemotherapy (and lost her hair), and the little things that helped her family cope during this difficult time (like rubbing lotion on her mom’s itchy head). The book ends with a glossary of key words kids might encounter when their mom has cancer, plus space for them to record questions and special memories.
The force behind the book is Mission Viejo, CA mom DeAnna Rice, who has four children (including Taylor) and has battled cancer three times. The $24.95 price tag is a bit more than you’d normally pay for a picture book, but you won’t mind at all when you know where the money goes. Proceeds support Moms with Cancer, the nonprofit organization Rice founded to help moms like her deal with cancer treatment and recovery. To help keep moms minds free to fight their cancer, and their hearts free to focus on their children, Moms with Cancer offers services free of charge to any woman who has both cancer and a child.
They offer help with a variety of needs, including housekeeping, rent, utility bills, wigs or hats, babysitting, groceries, medical costs, meals, transportation to appointments, peer counseling and coaching. They even offer a Happily Ever After Resource Team (HEART) to coordinate the support of a woman’s own family and friends. You can purchase My Cancer Mommy and learn of other ways to help (or get help) at www.momswithcancer.org or www.mycancermommy.com.