Posts Tagged Allergies

Middle Grade & YA Books About Allergies

According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), 1 in 13 children under age 18 have food allergies in the U.S.. That’s 32 million Americans, 5.6 million of them children. It’s a serious problem that impacts every classroom and many, many households. There are many wonderful books for younger kids about food allergies that teach them how to be safe by reading labels, asking about ingredients, checking with a trusted adult before eating anything, and carrying their medication and EpiPens when they go out, but when it gets to the middle school years, there’s less out there for food allergic kids or kids with other allergic conditions.

On one hand, that make sense. Middle school kids know the ropes by now, but on the other hand, as kids enter their teen years, risk-taking behavior around food allergies (as well as other serious allergies) skyrockets. Seeing children in books managing their allergies is important, even if the characters don’t always make perfect choices every time. In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, here are 5 middle-grade and YA titles about food allergies and other allergic conditions that tween and teen readers will enjoy.

Are we missing any? Tag MUF and share your picks with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

Allergic: A Graphic Novel by Megan Wagner Lloyd (author) and Michelle Mee Nutter (illustrator)

From the publisher: “A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet! At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur! Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd draws on her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.”

Allergy angle: Allergic is about a 5th grader with an allergy to dogs, not food, but it is sweet and fun, and younger MG readers will appreciate the gentle approach to managing a health condition.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough

From the publisher: “Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton–almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday. Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild. Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?”

Allergy angle: As noted in the blurb, Luis has a bee allergy and carries an EpiPen, and  the book makes it clear that managing a serious condition can be hard for a kid.


Almost Midnight: 2 Festive Short Stories by Rainbow Rowell and Simini Blocker (illustrator)

From the publisher: “Almost Midnight: Two Festive Short Stories by New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell contains two wintery short stories, decorated throughout with gorgeous black and white illustrations by Simini Blocker. ‘Midnights’ is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . . ‘Kindred Spirits’ is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.”

Allergy angle:  Noel has an allergy to tree nuts, which he mentions right off the bat when he meets Mags. Though this is a YA title, it can also be read by upper middle-grade readers.



My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

From the publisher: “If Life Was Like a Song Nina Simmons’ song would be You Can’t Always Eat What You Want. (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, We’re All in This Together. Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with her own kind–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer. Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well… Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.”

Allergy angle: I wrote My Year of Epic Rock because my then-elementary aged child had food allergies and I wanted there to be books out there that dealt with the challenge of being different during the years you most want to fit in. Nina has an allergy to peanuts and eggs.

Fearless Food: Allergy-Free Recipes for Kids by Katrina Jorgensen 

From the publisher: “Let’s get cooking with more than 100 allergy-free recipes for kids! Fun, delicious and easy-to-make breakfasts, snacks, sides, main dishes and desserts avoid the Big-8 food allergens whenever possible. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Chef Katrina Jorgenson has created amazing recipes that avoid milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Plus, the recipes are easy enough for kids to make on their own. The whole family will love Baked French Toast with Homemade Blueberry Sauce, Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta, Creamy Mac and Cheese, Banana Ice Cream and so much more!”

Allergy angle: There is no shortage of wonderful cookbooks for people with food allergies, intolerances, or celiac disease (who must avoid all gluten products). Here is one of them!

Allergic: Interview + Book Giveaway!

Do you know a child who would love to get a pet but can’t because of allergies? I was one of those kids. It was great to read graphic novel about a girl just like me. I got to chat with Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter about their book Allergic.

About the Book

Hi Megan and Michelle! Thank you for sharing Allergic with me. Growing up with both a food and pet allergy, I really appreciated a book that addressed both. You did a wonderful job showing how environmental allergy shots work, how it feels to miss out on something because of an allergy, and how you feel when your allergy impacts others. I’m sure it will help those with allergies feel understood and help those without allergies empathize.Allergic book cover

Can you give us a short summary of the book?

Megan: Allergic tells the story of an animal-obsessed girl named Maggie who’s about to get her first puppy…when she finds out she’s allergic to all animals with fur or feathers. Maggie’s still determined to do whatever it takes to find the perfect pet, but she has a lot to learn about her family, her friends, and herself along the way. (And thank you!)


When does the book come out?

Michelle : March 2nd!


There were so many different middle-grade concepts that you brought up in Allergic: friendship, feeling different, a new baby sibling, family relationships, hiding a secret…Tell us who would especially enjoy this book.

Michelle: I hope kids with and without allergies are able to see themselves in Maggie and can really relate to finding your own place with friends and family.

Megan: I think that kids with allergies will especially relate to Allergic. And because it also deals with so many challenges common to many childhoods, I think that most kids who love graphic novels will like it, too!


Michelle, the expressions you conveyed through your illustrations were amazing! I could really get a sense of emotion in each frame. If you had one tip for artists out there on illustrating graphic novels, what would it be?

Michelle: Thank you so much! I love acting out the emotions of the characters myself to feel them. If you caught me at my desk, you’d find me mimicking all the expressions as I draw them. It helps me understand the character and it’s a lot of fun. That and using reference photos, plenty of reference photos.


About the Author & Illustrator

Give us a sense of who you are in ten words or less.

Michelle: One artist trying her hardest to create happiness through books.

Megan: Dedicated bookworm and writer.


Can you explain to us the process of collaborating on a graphic novel? Megan, how did you convey what you wanted it to look like to Michelle? Were you able to communicate during the construction of the book?

Michelle Mee Nutter (by Greg Marquis)

Michelle Mee Nutter (by Greg Marquis)

Michelle: I loved working with Megan. She had such a strong grasp on the story and we just hit the ground running. It felt so organic to work together and I agreed with so much of the suggested pacing and stage direction but also had so much creative freedom to play around. We had a lot of conversations at the start and talked about ideas, concept art and where we wanted to take it. I feel so lucky to have teamed up with such a wonderful author.

Megan: It’s a little hard to describe because there were so many different stages to the project. Because we teamed up before pitching the project to publishers, we were able to collaborate on the initial vision for the book when I’d only written the first part of the script and a loose outline. After beginning officially working with Graphix, we would go through periods of working more individually (like when I was finishing writing the script and then when Michelle was doing the thumbnails, for example), but then would come together with our wonderful editor Cassandra Pelham Fulton at steps along the way. So it was this really great combination of working together and also giving each other creative space and trusting the vision the other person would bring to the project. As for the script itself, I planned the story beats and stage directions panel by panel, but then Michelle could adjust as she saw fit. Michelle really made so much of the emotion of the story work in ways beyond what I could have imagined. Working with her has been a dream come true!

Megan Wagner Lloyd (by Seth Lloyd)


Megan, can you tell us a short summary about your writing (and reading) journey. Did you enjoy writing as a child? Did you read comic books? What authors inspired you?

Megan: I have always been a bookworm. And I wrote in my diary when I was eight that I wanted to write books for children when I grew up! I wasn’t aware of comic books as a kid, but I did love Calvin and Hobbes collections. I also really loved books that had very detailed illustrations, like the Brambly Hedge books by Jill Barklem, The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and Jan Brett’s work. As I started reading novels, I read mostly fantasy books and animal stories, but my favorite realistic fiction writer was probably Beverly Cleary, as I connected with her humor and her ability to show the world from her kid characters’ perspectives.


Michelle, did you always enjoy drawing? What artists inspired you?

Michelle: I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. It was a way for me to create stories and characters that I couldn’t find in the books I had as a kid. Animation was a huge inspiration for me growing up, especially any movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Kiki’s Delivery Service was on a permanent loop in my house as a kid.


In what ways are each of you similar to Maggie?

Michelle: I’m very determined like Maggie. When I set my mind to something, I’ll stop at nothing to try and make it happen.

Megan: I bring pieces of myself to each of my characters, and with Maggie I think I channeled both my  anxiousness and determined optimism.



What gave you the idea to write about a pet allergy?

Megan: Like Maggie, I’m allergic to all animals with fur or feathers! I also have a lot of other allergies, but wanted to focus on animal allergies for this story.


Megan, how was the process of writing a graphic novel different from a traditional novel? And why did you choose that format? (Be sure to check out her blog post on writing resources for comics and graphic novels here.)

Megan:  I had been wanting to write a graphic novel for several years, but just wasn’t sure where to start. When I had the idea for writing a book focused on a kid with animal allergies, I thought it could be a great fit for the format, and that really motivated me to figure out the whole process.

One big difference for me has been that graphic novels really force me to always consider the physical location and movements of characters. With novels, especially in first person, you can have scenes that are more about the character thinking or reacting to something, really in that space in their own head. But with comics, unless you want to fill panels and pages with just dialogue bubbles, then you really have to consider the location and movement of the characters and what you can do to keep it moving and make space for interesting visual beats.


Michelle, how was the process of illustrating a graphic novel different from a traditional picture book?

Michelle: This was my first project I signed on to as an Illustrator. I had only done portfolio pieces or smaller form comics before Allergic. It was a dream come true and I had so much to learn as I went. The biggest difference is how long graphic novels take. We’re talking months and months, sometimes years if you’re lucky. There were a lot of hard nights where I didn’t know if I could do it, but every page you get closer and can feel the excitement building.


What is your best time to work? Any special rituals that get you ready and inspired?

Michelle: On my best days, I’m most productive early in the morning. When the sun is just rising and the house is completely quiet. There’s a lot of peace in those moments and I feel really energized. But I have a very bad habit of staying up late and I’m mostly working around 9am or 10am.

Megan: I’m a work-at-home parent, so I just kind of go with the flow. Whenever I try to make a solid schedule, something goes wrong. I try to work when I can whether I feel inspired or not, though everything does go much faster when I feel inspired and/or have a upcoming deadline. Books, TV, and nature are all big sources of daily inspiration for me.


What research did each of you need to do for any of the topics in Allergic?

Michelle: I had to research a lot! I never lived with allergies like Maggie does, so I had to research almost every aspect. Megan really helped with that and had so many resources and descriptions to pass down to me. I feel very spoiled working with her!

Megan: For the animal allergies I didn’t have to do much research, as I was using my own experiences as inspiration. I also have a family member who has to carry an Epi-pen, so I had already had some life experience learning about that aspect of allergies, too. I did research allergies in general, and food allergies in particular, to make sure I was conveying factual information. We were also able to have an allergist review the script for accuracy, which was very helpful. In the script itself, I tried to include a lot of links (to things like photo references for what allergy skin testing looks like, for example), so that Michelle wouldn’t have to figure out everything from scratch (hah!).


What ended up taking more time than you anticipated?

Michelle: Inking took a lot longer than I anticipated. Working on smaller comics always made inking feel like such a breeze. But for Allergic, the page count was the biggest learning curve. I could really only get through 2-3 pages per day, 4 if I was really powering through.

Megan: It was a bit of a learning curve for me that after I “finished” the script and Michelle did the sketches, the sketches and text combined then became the new working document, and we would re-assess the dialogue, narration, and even sound effects—clarifying and refining—with each round of the art process. But I’m glad we did it that way because I think it helped make the storytelling throughout feel very natural and cohesive.


For Teachers

Are either of you doing school visits related to this book? Tell us more!

Michelle: We are! Of course sticking to virtual visits and staying as safe as possible. We’re making presentations for a lot of fun programs and reach kids in the elementary school-middle school range.


How can we learn more about each of you?

Michelle: You can find me on instagram @buttersketch and my website is

Megan: And I’m on Instagram @meganwagnerlloyd and my website is


I hear you have another book coming out together. Can you give a little teaser about it?

Michelle: It’s pretty much under wraps for now, but what you can expect is a lot of fun meeting new characters and following along the ups and downs of having a big family.

Megan: I think it’s fair to say that if you liked the humor and heart in Allergic, you’ll really enjoy our next book, too!


Thank you both for your time.

Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter will be giving a signed copy of Allergic to a lucky reader. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is only available in the United States.

Megan Wagner Lloyd is the author of several picture books, including Paper Mice, Building Books, Finding Wild, and A Fort-Building Time. She lives in the Washington DC area. Visit her online at

Michelle Mee Nutter graduated with a BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, 3×3 Illustration, Creative Quarterly, and more. Michelle lives in Boston, MA. Visit her online at

Allergic is available here:

STEM Tuesday Wild and Wacky Science — In the Classroom

This month’s STEM Tuesday Theme: Wild and Wacky Science has the potential to lead readers in all directions! What a fun Book List the STEM Tuesday Team found for us this month.

Here are a few ways to use this month’s books in the classroom, extending learning beyond simply reading. Enjoy these suggestions, and as always, we welcome your additional suggestions in the comments below!

Follow a Friend on Facebook! 

After reading Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger, you’ll want to adopt one of these furry heroes! Since convincing parents to get new pets of any kind can be a monumental task, it might be easier for your class to befriend a furrrball on Facebook. Here are links to the Facebook pages of several of Furstinger’s friends.

Chris P Bacon, Pig on Wheels @CPBaconWheels

Brutus the Rottweiler @betterpawsforbrutus

Molly the Three-Legged Pony @mollythe3leggedpony

Vincent the Cat @walkingvincentcat

Albie, Felix, and Fawn, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary @woodstockfarm

 Chart Your Allergies! 

First, read Itch! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch by Anita Sanchez.

Then, practice data-collecting, chart-making, graphing, and data analysis skills by doing a classroom allergy assessment.  Start by asking students to create their own survey. What questions will you need to ask to find out who is allergic to what? Create the survey together, complete the surveys, and gather the data. Next, chart or graph (or both!) the results for a visual and numeric display of what gets under your skin. Who’s is inclined to itch when the cat comes in? Do menacing mosquitoes munch on many or just a few of the members of your class?

Dig Deeper!  Get the DNA 411!

In Forgotten Bones, Uncovering of a Slave Cemetery, Lois Miner Huey takes readers on a fascinating journey that begins with the discovery of and leads to an amazing amount of information about the thirteen slaves buried on what was once the Schuyler Family Farm near Albany, New York.

Much of what the scientists on the scene and in the lab near Albany were able to determine about the slaves was came the DNA samples from seven of the adult skeletons.  But what do you really know about DNA? Plan ahead for National DNA Day, April 25th, by checking out this website for several great DNA-related activities to do with kids. 

Make a Book Trailer.  Some of this month’s book picks have cool book trailers available on You Tube.  Watch these one-minute advertisements for wild and wacky nonfiction and make your own book trailer. There’s a lot to be said about getting the most out of just sixty seconds of screen time! Can you make a trailer that is certain to send readers running to the library to check out the book you’ve read? Here’s a link to a helpful tutorial to show How to Make a Book Trailer in iMovie.


This week’s STEM Tuesday post was prepared by

Michelle Houts delights in the wild and wacky side of finding fun facts for young readers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and often finds the nonfiction harder to believe than the fiction. Find her on Instagram and Twitter @mhoutswrites and on the web at