Three new Disney diabetes books for kids are now available for families! At the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life Conference this past week in Orlando, FL, Lilly Diabetes and Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled its trio of new titles that are the latest in a line of D-kids books that we detailed earlier this year.
Geared at kids ages 9 to 13, the theme is consistent: going away from home for the first time after being diagnosed with type 1.
Here's a glimpse of the book covers, and a quick synopsis of each:
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Covering the Bases: At 133 pages and partially sponsored by ESPN, this book is about a boy named Phillip Mitchell who can't wait to go to baseball camp. He's been looking forward to it for months, and it's finally here! There's just one problem: he hasn't spent so many nights away from home since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and he's worried. What if something goes wrong and there's no one around who can help him? Will Phillip be able to enjoy his first time at baseball camp, or will his nerves get the best of him?
Coco's First Sleepover: This is the third book featuring Coco the Monkey with Diabetes, and at 24 pages with four question/answer pages, it's written to help children and their families prepare for the child's very first night away from home after being diagnosed with type 1.
Superstar Dreams: A 116-page book focusing on Morgan Carlyle, who's new to town and hasn't made any friends yet. Then she meets Lizzie and it seems her luck is changing. Lizzie is great, and her friend Naomi also shares all the same interests as Morgan. But Naomi doesn't want to be Morgan's friend. Instead, she seems to view her as competition. Then Lizzie invites Morgan to a sleepover. Morgan is excited, but she's also nervous. She hasn't slept away from home since she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And to make matters worse, Naomi will be there, too! Can Morgan overcome her worries and find a way for her and Naomi to both be superstars?
A group of D-Advocates who attended the Lilly Blogger Summit got an early glimpse of these books back in April, and we were lucky to get a copy of two of the books to bring home with us. We've had a chance to look through them, and we think they're great family-friendly anecdotes for those going through these difficult times. But please, don't take our word for it -- since we're both adults living with type 1, rather than parents of kids with diabetes ourselves...
So we connected with two families who agreed to not only take a look at two of the new books for a short review, but also share their own stories about what it was like when their tweens with diabetes went away for the first time after being diagnosed. We're happy to hear from Nathan and Ajay Durham and their 14-year-old daughter, Kaylan, in central Indiana, along with Marie and her son, "Chief," in Connecticut:
For the Girls
Kaylan was diagnosed at 10 about four years ago, and she's now entering high school. Here's what she has to say about the new girls' book, Superstar Dreams:
I can really relate to the story pretty well. I never had to switch schools, but being in middle school was tough at first, as was my first sleepover with diabetes. I remember being scared and worrying a whole bunch, but at school everyone was very understanding, everyone just wanted to keep me safe and well. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. As for my first sleepover, it was better than expected. Sure I was scared... well, more scared that I'd ruin the party, LOL. As long as I was prepared I was OK. Everyone thought it was cool when I tested my blood sugar too. But to be extra safe, do what Morgan's mom did in the book and check ahead so you know what to expect. Superstar Dreams really did a great job of dealing with the worries of a T1 Diabetic!
And her mom, Ajay, says this:
I read Superstar Dreams and just wished I had the money to put a copy in every school library and give one to every newly-diagnosed family with type 1 diabetes. Why both, you ask? The reason is that new families need to know that others around you will find acceptance in learning about this condition, but you have to find acceptance in it, too. Then, I'd like copies for the school libraries because it's great to see inside our lives that diabetes is more than a "no sugar" jail sentence.
After Kaylan was diagnosed, most people didn't realize how much our world was turned upside-down. Kaylan was 10, and we had known what we now call "a normaI pancreas childhood." I was highly involved in PTO, was head-room mother, had always been at Kaylan's class parties, and she was always invited to sleepovers. But when diabetes came... it all changed. The overnight invites seemed to stop instantly. Even my friends acted differently around me! She and I both knew that there was an underlying reason: fear. And it wasn't all on our part! I did my very best to educate her classmates and teachers about diabetes. Any parent who would talk to me, I would tell them all I could. I came to class, talked with the kids, had "show and tell" all about it. But still there was a difference. It took a few months for the fear to subside. Kaylan had sleepovers at home with friends and it started to "break the ice" again. Even going to grandma's house, which was an every-weekend occurrence, had changed. Grandma had to work into sleepovers, too.
With time, we have gotten so used to diabetes being a part of our everyday lives. Going to grandma's, the mall with friends, sports practices, music lessons and even class parties became "normal" again. We had to learn that normal had to be redefined. The old life we had "passed away," so we had just better make the best of where we are now.
Kaylan is happily entering senior high now. She will be joining show choir, and she loves to play volleyball, swim, sing and play her piano. Nothing slows her down, not even diabetes.
And that, I think, is what this book is all about -- proving that life goes on and no matter what, it doesn't have to stop you from being with friends or places away from home.
For the Boys
In Connecticut, 15-year-old "Chief" was diagnosed about three years ago and now he's just finished 9th grade. Here's what Chief and his mom, Marie, say about Covering the Bases:
From D-Mom Marie:
Ah, summer sleep-away camp. For us, the phrase does not conjure up giddy memories of fun activities and campfires; our son, nicknamed "Chief," was diagnosed almost three years ago with type 1 during his first-ever sleep away camp experience.
We had carefully chosen a tween adventure bike trip on which he and 11 other kids would ride during the day and sleep in a different hostel each night. Because of a shocking lack of common sense and basic first aid knowledge on the part of the two counselors, the whole experience was horrific for Chief. He became very weak and dehydrated during the second day of long distance riding but was cajoled into another long ride on the third day. The counselors' inaction culminated in DKA and a Med-Evac flight to the ICU (during a tornado—which, I will admit, was not their fault). It was a very long recovery and as difficult as a type 1 diagnosis is on a family, we knew it didn't have to be as dangerously critical as it was. If only someone had been watching out for him...
Then the following summer, one year into diagnosis, we were back to considering summer camp. Diabetes camp had been highly recommended, but it was still a tough decision to make as we had seen what regular old incompetence could result in. It was irrationally hard to believe that he would be properly supervised even with all those endocrine experts at diabetes camp. We did eventually send him, though, knowing he would be in good hands. Chief went to The Barton Center's Camp Joslin that year and went back again the next.
It's not easy for us to send him to away camp, but that's only because of our story. It turned out he had a great experience at Joslin and during his second week away in that first year, we finally figured out that it was our vacation time, too!
The new ESPN Lilly/Disney 'tween fiction book Covering the Bases is a story about a middle-school-aged boy named Phillip who has type 1 and plans to go away to a non-D baseball camp for the first time. It is age-appropriate for tweens and would be readable by younger kids, with dialogue that is a little stiff, but still realistic. The social dramas, challenges and kid anxieties (including D-issues) that Phillip faces are typical for that age group.
What struck me about the book is the fact that the boy seems to not have much parental involvement in his diabetes management. Our endocrinologist (and everyone else in the D-world) says it "takes a family" to manage diabetes, and we live by that. In one instance, the main character goes on a sleepover but forgets to pack his glucose tabs. He's in 7th grade -- did no one at home help him? On a side note, I wished the kid had an insulin pump; it's harder to manage sports and exercise while on shots.
I would recommend the book to kids around the tween age level and I'm glad that Lilly and Disney teamed up on the project. I think it's always a comfort for kids to read about others going through similar experiences.
And here's Chief's take:
When I went to a sleep-away diabetes camp for the first time, I was nervous at first since I didn't know anyone who was going, and I had only been to sleep-away camp once before.
In the end I had a good time. I was able to befriend many people who already had friends there. The nurses did a pretty decent job of taking care of all the campers' diabetes. Sharing diabetes experiences with others was fun and interesting, and I was glad I was able to make new friends in a group of people I had never met before. Having something in common with unknown people is a good way to connect and exchange ideas with them.
I had a great experience, just like Phillip did (in the book) and I was able to meet a bunch of really nice kids. I feel that Covering the Bases is a good book for all diabetics, and especially helpful for those going off to camp. It provides a good representation of one's experience, complete with a kid who at first appears mean but later becomes friends with the main character. The book comes pretty close to describing this experience for kids, with the exception of the quirks I've listed below:
- The book uses the terms "glucose tab(let)s" and "glucose pills" interchangeably; everyone I have come across says tab(let)s and using "pills" conveys the thought that glucose tablets are "serious" medication.
- The fact that the baseball team coach invites the players over to a sleepover at his house is just plain creepy.
- No one checks Phillip into camp or has him speak with the nurse, nor do his parents help him pack for camp or the sleepover. This seems a little strange. Phillip forgot his glucose tabs at the sleepover, and this would have been prevented if his parents helped him pack.
Great stories and reviews, so thank you so much D-families!
Unfortunately, these books can't be bought or viewed online... at least not yet. But we're told by Lilly that these books -- along with the previous Lilly Diabetes/Disney Publishing books -- will be available for free viewing online by early next year, at the latest.
In the meantime, Lilly tells us all three books should be available through pediatric endocrinologists' offices starting in mid to late August -- all you have to do is ask your endo or educator if they have the books. If your doc doesn't have copies in his/her office yet, Lilly says it can approve individual requests through the Lilly Answers Center (TLAC) hotline at 1-800-LillyRx. That hotline can accommodate requests for personal use only for one individual to have a book, we're told.
We've pressed Lilly to make these books available more broadly, either on Amazon.com or in local community or school libraries, but we haven't seen that happening so far. We can only hope it will.
The DMBooks Giveaway
We let the reviewing families keep the copies of the two teen books we had, but are giving away our copy of Coco's First Sleepover. Interested? Entering the giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the the text to let us know that you'd like to be entered in the giveaway.
2. You have until Friday, July 19, 2013, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The contest is open to all, so good luck everyone!
This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Kelly, who Random.org chose as winner of this book giveaway!