Thursday, January 26, 2017


As the father of a daughter with severe food allergies, I've experienced first hand the negativity that hangs over people suffering with this medical condition and their families from having to constantly be cautious about where you go and what you eat; being excluded from places and situations because you become either a risk or an inconvenience; and dealing with people who have no consideration or compassion that their actions impact whether you may be sleeping in your own bed or a hospital room that night because of something called anaphylactic shock.  So I was really happy to share with my daughter a book based upon a true story that provides some positivity to the food allergy experience.

Ginny Heenan is an award-winning San Francisco area artist who paints children's portraits.  She has written several books based upon enlightening experiences she has had while working with these children. AVRIL KNOWS is based upon a real life girl named Abby with a severe nut allergy who was eight year old (which happens to be the same age as my daughter) when Heenan painted a 36-inch by 36-inch canvas oil portrait of her two years ago.  

Heenan strives through this picture book, with illustrations by Savannah Lund and Daniele Derenzi, to help children with allergies see themselves positively through the eyes of an artist.  This book does a nice job of showing how to make "lemonade out of lemons" when dealing with a tough situation and provides encouragement to look at the positive side of life instead of dwelling on the bad things.  I appreciate that Avril isn't presented as a girl who is letting allergies interfere with living her life, but rather someone who is handling her condition the best she can and appreciates some positive encouragement from the artist painting her portrait.  This is a nice book for children with food allergies to read in that it reinforces that they aren't alone in their struggles and has an uplifting message in its story.

 For those who don't have a close connection to someone with food allergies AVRIL KNOWS personalizes what it is like to be a kid living with this medical condition providing a better understanding of what it is like to walk in those people's shoes.  The book isn't a call for regulations, protections or other actions but rather just tells it as it is regarding the story of a young girl living her life with food allergies.  A great selection for any library's children's section or elementary school class reading assignment because it invokes compassion and understanding without preaching, lecturing or demanding anything from its audience.  The book just challenges readers to picture their own face on the canvas of that portrait instead of Avril's.  How would you handle, or how will you handle, living a life with a severe food allergy?  Sincerely answering that question can be a life changing moment both for those with and those without food allergies.

Avril loves learning new magic tricks. She also has an uncanny way of noticing details and things that other people don't, and that makes her good at magic. When her parents decide to have her portrait painted Avril imagines herself as a proud magician. However, Avril learns through the eyes of the artist that her allergies are not a bad thing, but instead make her more powerful and special than she ever imagined.

AVRIL KNOWS: A POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE ON ALLERGIES is available on Amazon either in paperback or as a kindle download.  kindleunlimited members can read the book as one of the free selections in their subscription's services. A Geek Daddy readers can also get a 30% discount by purchasing the book through the CreateSpace estore by using code  DJNXUWGA.

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