A young pachyderm worries how friends will react to her peanut allergy on the first day of school.
There are plenty of things to be anxious about when school starts. Eppie the elephant is worried about them all, but mostly she is concerned that her classmates will find out that she is allergic to peanuts. Just one whiff can trigger a reaction, so she must sit in a special “ ‘Nut-Free’ zone” at lunch. None of the friends that she makes that morning can sit with her because they each have some form of nuts in their lunchboxes. Eppie’s fears come true when her friends laugh or stare at her for being different. But the next day, her friends apologize for not understanding and bring tuna for lunch instead. This effort should be lauded for exploring the emotional side of an allergy, but the clunky rhymes are at times grimace-inducing: “As Eppie stood between them, / they explained how she’d been missed. / They swore they’d make it up to her, / and why she shouldn’t resist.” Brown’s cheery anthropomorphized animals populate the spreads, with tiny visual asides (a mouse sits on a stack of books in order to reach the desk; a pig plunges its snout directly into a tray of slop for lunch) that brighten the textual missteps.
The topic is worthy of exploration, but the forced rhymes muddle the impact. (Picture book. 3-6)