Our family lives with Celiac Disease. This auto-immune disease means that our family cannot eat foods with wheat, rye, oats, or barley. In our house, this means that we eat a lot of home-made treats using my recipes.
There aren’t a lot of books about kids with Celiac Disease, but the ones we have seen talk a lot about what the kids can’t have, whereas my kids think that you can eat anything with Celiac Disease, you just have to be patient for Mom to make it. The picture book Bagels, Buddy, and Me tells the story of a boy with Celiac Disease, but with a focus on the positive. It also talks about the family changing their diet, not making special meals for one person – this book showed something very similar to our lives in a book! If you live with food allergies, you might also want to check out this review of a peanut allergy book.
Bagels, Buddy, and Me is written and illustrated by Melanie Krumrey about her bagel-loving family, her son Cooper, and their journey to his diagnosis with Celiac Disease. Like many kids with Celiac, Cooper didn’t have just one symptom – he had several that were difficult to diagnose. The book shows the many medical tests and procedures Cooper goes through – including getting an MRI in what looks like a giant bagel!
When the Celiac Disease blood work is described, it is explained on a level so children can explain, but it’s not condescending. There is a great picture of a scientist looking at Cooper’s blood in a microscope, showing the antibodies attacking the gluten. It was wonderful to have such a vivid explanation. I was also very impressed by the images and explanations of the damage to the villi from Celiac Disease. We’ve watched the The Magic School Bus – Human Body episode a few times, and that describes the villi in the small intestine very well (the The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body book is good, too). My kids had never seen an image of the healthy villi on one side of the picture, and damaged villi on the other side, though! Melanie Krumrey definitely made an impact with that image!
After Cooper has all the tests, he finds out that he cannot eat gluten. His family keeps a food diary and finds that his symptoms are slowly going away, and after 2 weeks, they’re gone! A month later, they’re still gone! As with most kids who have to change their diets, at first Cooper is really upset – he can’t have bagels! In the beginning, Cooper focuses on what he can’t have. But after a little while, his mom discovers cookbooks that can help him have all the foods he loved before, including bagels!
Also like many kids with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance, Cooper finds out that there are other people in his family who need to be gluten-free. His mom finds out that she feels better without gluten, and his sister ends up with stomach-aches similar to what Cooper had before going gluten-free, and her tests show that she needs to be gluten-free, too. This is pretty common – in our family we have 4/5 people gluten-free, there’s a strong genetic component of Celiac Disease.
In an unusual twist of events, it turns out that Cooper’s dog, Buddy, is also sensitive to wheat! When they change Buddy’s diet, his digestive problems go away. My youngest daughter liked telling our new-to-us dog, Jack, about that. Our dogs food has gluten, but any treats (bones, chews, etc) are gluten-free so that the girls can give treats to the dogs without worrying about gluten cross-contamination. (As an aside, if you’re looking for inexpensive GF dog treats, we found Milk-Bone Deli Bites at Amazon and the grocery store)
Our family loved the story of Cooper’s Celiac diagnosis, and the change in his whole family’s diet in Melanie Krumrey’s book Bagels, Buddy, and Me. It was wonderful for all of us to find a family like ours in a book! Finding a book that talks about Celiac, kids, and the yummy treats you can have even if you are gluten-free was wonderful for us. If your family is dealing with Celiac Disease or if you know people who are dealing with Celiac, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Cooper’s story! You can buy a copy on their website.