The No Biggie Bunch (Review and Indiegogo Campaign)

My food allergy dollars allocate in priority to:

1) Injectable epinephrine
2) Safe chocolate
3) Safe food

Now all they need to make is an epinephrine auto-injector case with a spot for emergency chocolate and snacks, right?  My daughter would totally be on board with it if it was pink, blue, and purple. What I mean to get at, in my signature roundabout way, is that the first place I go when I need food allergy related reading material is my local library (and even inter-library loan) before buying books (or usually in lieu of buying them). So I have to admit that I was aware of the No Biggie Bunch series of books for quite some time before I ever investigated further because our local library did not have any copies. We were missing out on a neat quartet of smart, well illustrated, and accurate food allergy reads for the younger set.

No Biggie Nutrition Facts

I met Heather Mehra, co-creator of the No Biggie Bunch books (with Kerry McManama and Michael Kline), and her husband at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference last November and they are some of my favorite people because of their authentic exuberance for kid lit, awareness, and their family. I flipped through one of the books for the first time when I visited with Heather and the quality of the series was readily apparent. I excitedly purchased two books for my children and when they shipped to me I was generously gifted the other two books in the series as well, all signed (thank you so much again Heather)!

No Biggie Bunch books

The No Biggie Bunch should be in libraries and a new Indiegogo campaign aims to make that happen. Contributions fund distribution costs associated with putting the series in libraries across all 50 states. In the first week of the campaign, for example, $30 covers one set of four books for a library as well as two books for a school library dear to the contributor’s heart. Six books (retailing for $14.99 apiece normally) disseminated with sound and approachable food allergy discussion for just $30 is a great deal and I wanted to use it as the nudge I needed to get around to writing about the series here.

Peanut Free Tea for Three

This was the first of the series that I read and I had to get it for my daughter.  Three friends gather to have a tea party and are totally supportive of one another’s food allergy circumstances.  They bring their own safe food, something very familiar in our family, and have a wonderful time.  A main topic in this one is cross contamination with jelly because a knife may have had peanut butter on it during a prior use.  The book also models collaborative imaginary play.

Trade or Treat Halloween

The No Biggie Bunch each have single allergies, as well as one member that has no food allergies.  This really works for kids with multiple allergies because they can identify with more than one character in the books.  In “Trade or Treat Halloween” the kids are able to enjoy trick or treating with the knowledge that they’ll trade their haul for safe options.  Last year we had our first trick or treat outing and my kids handled it very well.  Greta, allergic to wheat, is excited in this story because she trades all her candy for stickers to decorate her room.


Dairy Free Dino-Licious Dig

There are no adults in the No Biggie Bunch books so the situations and dialogue are very accessible to elementary school and pre-school children.  Davis can’t share Natalie’s cheesy crackers when she offers them on a playdate because of his dairy allergy but both Natalie and Davis handle things in an upbeat way.  Davis’ “No Biggie Bag” has just the safe snack he needs and the two can continue with their adventure.  The attitude toward food allergy is very factual but supportive.  I see the children in my daughter’s class being very understanding on a regular basis.  Like Natalie, they want to share but know they need to keep their classmate safe.


Sports-tastic Birthday Party Book

We’ve covered tea parties, Halloween, and the run of the mill playdate. . .I saved the hardest scenario for last – the birthday party.  Scotty’s birthday cake is safe for some but not all of his friends but they are prepared with safe treats of their own.  As a mother I feel a pang of sadness when I read this book because of course we want our children included in those activities that others take for granted but to my children this book reflects the reality of birthday parties for them.  We plan and prepare and shop and bake so we can celebrate with their friends so that the focus of the day is not on the sugar rush (though that is an added benefit) but on having a great time together.

"No Biggie!"
“Along with my princess crown I packed my own jelly in my No Biggie Bag.”

The illustrations by Michael Kline are bright and cheerful and the characterizations are forward thinking – the friends have varied cultural backgrounds and diverse interests but love getting together.  I hope you’ll consider supporting the Indiegogo campaign to get these books into more libraries!

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The books are really focused on models of good habits when managing food allergies, so for books that cover allergic reactions I’d recommend The Princess and the Peanut: An Allergic Fairytale and The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies to round out your library collection.  

I am a volunteer contributing reviewer of books, music, and movies over at VegBooks.org if you’d like to check my recent posts there: Philip Reid Saves the Statue of FreedomThe Lego Movie (2014)In a Heartbeat (CD), Patty’s Secret, Bronto, Friend of Ceratops, Violet Mackrel’s Natural Habitat, and Monster on the Hill.

The 2012 Vegas Valley Comic Book and Children’s Book Festivals

Last year we attended the Moapa Valley Art Guild Pomegranate Festival (I guess November is festival month in Southern Nevada) but wanted to do something different for 2012.  I signed up in advance for a VIP ticket (the event is free, if you registered early you received a few perks, however) for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival over at Clark County Library.  The event included panels and tables both inside and outside – it was a beautiful day and the kids and I had fun exploring on the morning of November 3rd.  We headed straight to Ralph’s Alternate Reality Comics Booth and who should walk by but Spider-Man and Iron Man cosplayers (pictured at another table below).  “Spider-Man” gave E and R little plastic spider rings that made their entire week.  Actually, R is still talking about it!  Spidey is one of my favorites so R will have plenty of reading material when he is old enough to be allowed to peruse my comic book boxes.

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The event, though welcoming to kids (a number of free children’s comics were being handed out and E recognized her Owly books at the Top Shelf booth), did not have too much for E and R in the morning (they needed to be home for lunch and naps) so we hit the road for downtown Las Vegas to check out the Vegas Valley Children’s Book Festival!  I had heard friends rave about the event and was not disappointed.  It was strange to drive downtown for something other than work, though.

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My husband and I used to eat lunch near the water feature pictured above. Seeing families enjoying the shade made me hope that someday downtown is a more vibrant place. The economic downturn hit just as the area was getting attention from investors but I’ve read recently that Zappos has made a commitment to improving conditions downtown.

We weren’t able to find parking except at some meters with a one hour limit – not a great amount of time – but even with spending most of our time at the Lowe’s booth (they had free wood crafting kits for kids to hammer away at) and the PBS booth (for puppet making) we still caught a presenter at the storytelling area (she was coaching the audience with the song “Did you feed my cow?”) and came away with an armful of new (and free) books.  We would have loved to stay to see David Shannon but our time was up at that point.  Running into Maggie Verderame of Kids Do Yoga on our way to the car had E so excited so I guess our timing was just right.  R fell asleep in the car while clutching his wooden fire truck.

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I enjoyed seeing the inside of Fifth Street School.  It opened right after E was born but I remember walking to Federal Court and watching the construction work to revitalize it with interest.

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Also, seeing so many families passionate about reading with their children was fantastic.  Anyone who says Las Vegas does not have a lot to offer families with children is simply not looking hard enough.  Add both events to your November calendar for 2013!

Book Gift Ideas for Two Year Olds

My son has fallen in love with some books of late and I wanted to share a few here in case someone is searching for ideas for a birthday or holiday gift for a two year old boys or girls (my four year old daughter enjoys all of these as well).  Books are my favorite gift to take to birthday parties!

R has been read to a lot but I am sure being the younger child he hasn’t had as much one on one reading time as his sister enjoyed when she was small.  Even so, his love of books has been sparked in the last 6 months in particular and these titles put the biggest smile on his face.  A note about the links, they all go through my amazon affiliate tag (you can read more about what that means here) but you can search for them at your library or other site by title as well.


Have You Seen My Duckling? (amazon affiliate link) – A classic for many children, this one used to make R cry when the ducklings went to sleep with their Mom at the end.  I’m not sure if it was because he was anti-bedtime or because it meant the story was over but I had to skip the last page for a while.  All along, however, he has loved looking for the lost duckling on each page.  A little duckling goes missing from his mother but is never far behind her as she searches so on each page you can see the little duckling and point him out.


Trashy Town (amazon affiliate link) – With R’s obsession with garbage trucks I wanted to find him some good library books and with her usual perfect timing, Allison over at No Time for Flashcards did a post about 25 Books About Cars and Trucks as I began my quest.  What appealed to me about her suggestion for Trashy Town was that it talks about garbage trucks in a nice way.  R likes to read this one to me and cried when we had to give it back to our library.  A man goes about town picking up trash until he finally takes his truck to the dump and heads home for a bath.  Really cute, I have this on R’s Christmas List this year.


Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (amazon affiliate link) – This is a gorgeous book and another to file under the label “charming truck books.”  Each variety of truck finishes his work, gets ready for bed, and says goodnight.  The prose is great for reading aloud and R loves that one of the trucks has a teddy bear.


It’s Not Easy Being Big (amazon affiliate link) – Random choice, I know, but the story is an early reading book that features Elmo and Big Bird from Sesame Street lamenting about being small and big, respectively.  At the end they conclude it can be easy being small and it can be easy being big as well.  I think what R loves about this book are the scenarios he can related to – Big Bird trying to swing, Elmo throwing a football to Grover, etc.  I think I read this to him about two to three times each evening and then tell it to him from memory once the lights are out.  Any little one that loves Elmo (or “Elbow Show” as R calls him) will get a kick out of this book.


Lego Duplo Ultimate Sticker Collection (amazon affiliate link) – Sticker books are an obsession of R’s right now and I actually bought this one for E for when I was in the hospital to give birth to R.  She loved it but he is the one that has pretty much finished putting all the stickers in various places in the book.  I’ve bought other sticker books but this is his favorite and the easiest for his little fingers to manipulate.  The free play areas (scenes where you can put the stickers wherever you want) let him play on his own a little bit instead of always asking for help finding where a particular sticker should go.


Ten Little Ladybugs (amazon affiliate link) – I bought this for R’s 1st birthday and it is still going strong.  There are little plastic ladybugs that are part of the book and they disappear one by one until all of them are home again in the end of this counting book.

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Speaking of books, here’s a roundup of my latest reviews at the wonderful Vegbooks.org (mostly for the pre-school and up set):

Nature’s Patchwork Quilt – A great book about habitats.

Granny’s Clan – I learned so much about Orca whales from this book.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme – Another cute re-work of the song “Over in the Meadow” that illustrates and counts rainforest creatures.

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration – From the same author as “Over in the Jungle,” this book discusses animal migration in a clear, easy to understand way that kept E’s attention.

Bronto & the Pterodactyl Eggs – I’ll never get used to calling Brontosaureses by their proper name, Apatasaurus, but the author of this book lets me slip up sometimes by calling the protagonist in the book Bronto.

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What are some of your favorite books for children right now?