Children’s Book Review and My First Giveaway!

In my past life (I’m talking pre kids, not reincarnation) when I worked in the book publishing industry, one of my favorite things to do was write book reviews. There was one job where that was a major part of my day. I also got to have lunches and coffee dates with publicists and come back to the office with dozens of FREE books.

free books

To a book lover this is like winning the lottery every day. Why I quit that particular (in retrospect, rather awesome) job to work at evil MTV Networks I will NEVER know. I didn’t even watch or like MTV at that point. Yet, I jumped ship because that’s what people did in the early 2000s when jobs were like bags of Skittles and you could rip open another pack and try a new flavor pretty much whenever you wanted…

[Full disclosure, had I not quit that job to work at evil MTV I wouldn’t have met my husband and therefore not had Bunky, Little Guy, or this blog, so THANK YOU evil MTV for making my life completely miserable for nine months yet inadvertently helping me find my soulmate + kiddos.]

That all leads me to this point: a few weeks ago when I received an email from a publicist asking if I’d consider reviewing a children’s book about celiac disease, I was like, oh yes!

Full disclosure: I received two free copies of this book with the understanding that I would write a review and give one away, but all opinions expressed here are my own. 

Gluten-Free Me: Beckmin Goes to Schoolby Christy E. Bukowski

glutenfreemeGluten-Free Me follows five-year-old Beckmin as he embarks on his first day of kindergarten. I really like how the author shows just how many gluten related situations a child may deal with in a single day – and this is not including after school care or play dates. From an offering of gluten cereal as the only breakfast option, to being unable to share his sandwich at lunch, to a birthday party, Beckmin handles each moment with grace, humor and lightheartedness.

Gluten-Free Me is powerful because it teaches the reader (along with Beckmin’s classmates and teachers) about celiac and the challenges that arise. Bykowski speaks from experience since her son, also named Beckmin, was diagnosed with celiac at 18 months.

I read this book to Bunky and she liked it a lot, especially since the main character is five years old and in kindergarten, like her. But she did ask me why Beckmin thinks having celiac is “special” – something he says several times in the book. I honestly didn’t know how to answer this. For me, “special” is a tricky word since it carries both positive and negative connotations. Does Bunky feel special when she can’t accept her friend’s offer of goldfish crackers, or has to bring her own pizza to a party?

When you have celiac, the reality is you’re different, your food is different.

You can’t share, and if a kid touches your gluten free cookie with gluten fingers, you can’t eat it. But maybe the point Bykowski is trying to make is that the difference is special to our children. It’s part of what makes them who they are.

My special girl.

My special girl.

I think this book would be great for newly diagnosed young children and their families since it offers a simple explanation of celiac as well as touching upon (albeit positively, sorry to be such a cynic!) social exclusion. I also think it would be a wonderful teaching tool for teachers and students.

Speaking of which, I sent this book to school with Bunky today because several times she hasn’t been able to finish her lunch because her food has been touched by another child. Some kids are scared of the dark, but my kid is scared of crumbs.

Bunky chose to sit apart at a birthday party because she was afraid of gluten crumbs.

Remember this? Bunky chose to sit apart at a crowded party because she was afraid of crumbs.

When I told her teacher about the book, she was very receptive about reading it to the class. (And of course I ran it by B first.) I just hope that when she does, Bunky – who has a tendency to feel embarrassed when people talk about celiac in front of her – feels special rather than simply different.

And now for the best part – the giveaway! I have a free copy of Gluten-Free Me for one lucky reader, or, one lucky reader’s favorite celiac family.

*In fact, I will mail the book to the winner – OR – to whoever the winner would like to receive the copy. I will also totally consider mailing it outside the United States, as long as the postage isn’t more than a zillion dollars.

All you have to do to be eligible to win is write a comment below. So easy! I will pick one winner at random (finger’s crossed, pinky swear, etc) two weeks from today, December 27th. If you feel like it, tell me who you have in mind to receive the book and why. I’m just curious, it has no basis on winning. I could get all fancy pants on you and do Rafflecopter or whatever it’s called, but let’s face facts, I’m not that fancy.

If you don’t win, or don’t want to take any chances, consider purchasing this book for a celiac family that you love. It is the season, after all. You can order a copy here.

27 thoughts on “Children’s Book Review and My First Giveaway!

  1. I was diagnosed with celiac 2 months ago and having my 4 year old son tested too. I put him on an almost GF diet until I know for sure. I would love to win the book.

    God bless you and your family,
    Jodi from Ohio

  2. I don’t need to be entered in the giveaway because I’m a little outside the target readership (even if you’d never know it from some of my posts), but just wanted to comment to say two things: 1) I didn’t know you used to work in publishing. Cool! 2) Really interesting thoughts on the word “special.” It’s become such a buzzword but it’s so vague, hard to know whether to encourage kids to identify with it or not. I also find it often sounds pretty patronizing, but maybe that’s just me.

    • Oh yes, the good old days in book publishing. The problem was I didn’t know how good it was! Doh. Oh well, I’ll always have the memories 🙂

      I’m definitely conflicted about the word “special,” it totally can feel patronizing, though I understand that isn’t the intention (or even the feeling I get) in this book. But still, it’s hard to know if I should have Bunky embrace it or not.

  3. As a GF momma to a kiddo who is GF/WF (gluten intolerant/wheat allergic) and who has a little something ‘special’ I’m with you wholeheartedly about the use of the word. She IS special in a zillion ways, but (beyond her allergies) she’s also special needs. The ying and the yang of it all – in the word and in how this difference is viewed. Conflicted in its use doesn’t begin to explain it, huh?
    Love that you’re giving it away and, selfishly, I’d cherish the copy for my first grader — but I’m still just loving that you’re giving a copy away! 🙂

    • The ying and yang indeed! It’s a tricky word. If it were up to me, Bunky would be special, celiac and beyond, because I think she’s extraordinary, but the world may see things differently.

      Reading everyone’s comments makes me wish I had more books to give away! Reminds me of my dad who was the worst ice cream truck worker (at least in terms of his own profits) because he’d buy treats for all the kids who couldn’t afford it 🙂

  4. Congratulations on reaching another blogging milestone, Dana! What an awesome job you had! I’ve got my eye on my toddler at the moment – I am a little suspicious that we are at the beginning of Coeliac Disease for him, so if he does have it, this book will be a winner as he is due to start kindy in 2015. I’ll be putting it on his birthday list for next year. Although I’m with you – we don’t consider our Little Coeliac “special” – Coeliac Disease is her reality and we just deal with it. But what a fantastic tool to educate the other kids at kindy. And how brilliant that Bunky is able to look after herself by avoiding crumbs, or recognising that they will make her ill!

    • Thank you Kate! Oh, we’re keeping an eye on our toddler, too. It’s definitely a good read for that age too. I read it a bunch of times to both my kids.

      Bunky is great at watching out for crumbs, but sometimes I wish she were a little less anxious about it. But I guess you can’t have it both ways.

  5. Hi Dana,
    I don’t need to be entered in the giveaway since I already have the book but we also got caught up on the word “special” when we were reading it. My kids asked me if I ever feel special because of my celiac disease and my quick and honest answer was no! However, if any of them do develop it, which statistically, will likely happen, I would want them to feel special about it instead of inconvenienced (like I do on a regular basis!)

    • Thanks Jess, I saw your write up of the book on your blog! I’m kind of laughing at the fact that your kids asked if you felt special with celiac and your immediate response was NO, ha. I mean, yeah, it makes sense. Of course I’d rather my kids feel special rather than different, but I’m not sure if the word is the right one.

  6. Sounds like a great book for kids to help them, their teachers and friends to understand the battle. My son said to me the other day that if he had a wish to change something about himself it would be that his intolerances to certain foods would be gone. This is only one of his issues yet to a boy with autism he feels it is the hardest thing to deal with. He went on to say he would not change his autism because that is who he is. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Yes, even with my misgivings about the word “special” I think it’s a great book for families and schools.

      What you said next struck me – how your son would choose to not have food restrictions if he could. I think so many people minimize the effect food restrictions has on children. I also like how he wouldn’t change his autism, how that is part of who is he. That makes sense to me, because that’s all wrapped up in his personality and identity, unlike food restrictions.

  7. I didn’t know there was not supposed to be a taste, or a touch of gluten. I was recently diagnosed with celiac, and my family and I don’t really understand the full implications of it. I appreciate your book review! I actually love children’s books, but hey, I am quite far away from most places (I’m in New Zealand), so you might want to choose again if you land on my comment for the giveaway!

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re newly diagnosed, but there is SO much information on the web about celiac, from medical stuff to recipes, so I hope you can find out everything you need to know. As far as touching gluten, my daughter does touch it when she plays with play-doh, but then washes her hands. She is fine with that, but some celiacs can get a reaction on their skin. Tasting is another thing altogether as even a small amount can effect the body.

      Thanks so much for your comment! The drawing is random, and I do have readers as far away as Australia, so we’ll see what happens 🙂

  8. Haha I also met my boyfriend at a job I seriously disliked; it’s funny how life sometimes works out like that! How exciting to be doing your first giveaway (I would love to do one as well someday). Hope you’re having a fantastic holiday season 🙂 – Niki x

  9. Pingback: A Word and a Winner | celiac kiddo

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