Inspired by the author’s son, Andrew, this rhyming story takes some of the mystery out of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) for children and families. Beginning with the big symptoms: excessive thirst and bathroom use – Andrew’s parents take him to the doctor and discover that he has Type 1 diabetes. But what does that mean? Author Mike Suarez explains a big word in easier to understand language. He soothes parents’ potential worries, too – Andrew’s parents wonder if they allowed their son too many sweets, but the medical staff quickly lets them know that Type 1 diabetes is nobody’s fault: Andrew’s pancreas has stopped producing insulin, but there are ways to live a happy, healthy, active life. Andrew’s family gets on board with technology, using apps, alarms, and emails to keep up to date on his blood sugar and keep his medical staff notified. He has healthy food, labeled with nutritional info (10g sugar each or a juice box and for a yogurt) and an emergency kit for when his blood sugar drops (lollipops). Andrew and his family also learn about the supportive community they’ve become part of: there are T1D camps and events, where kids and families can come together. Andrew says it best when he sums up his first year with Type 1: “Diabetes is work from shots to blood samples/But there’s still time for fun/There’s lots of examples”.
The cartoony artwork is kid-friendly and helps mitigate some of the scary feelings a diagnosis may come with. The hospital is depicted as a bright, friendly place, with silly roommates, visiting therapy dogs, and giant fish tanks to see. The page with Andrew’s foods is laid out clearly, so families can see, and perhaps emulate, packing lunchboxes, travel snacks, and emergency sweets. A handwritten thank you note from the real-life Andrew concludes the story.
I loved seeing Andrew active and having fun. My niece was diagnosed with T1D as a preschooler; she’s now a junior in high school and a competitive gymnast. Going to a T1D camp was a fantastic experience for her. I’m so proud of her, I could burst. She – and her family – have come a long way from those first scary days. Books like Year One with Type One go a long way in dispelling myths and giving families a starting point after a diagnosis. It’s important to read these stories to all kids, too, so there’s no unknown to fear.
There are some good T1D resources online for kids and families. The American Diabetes Association has links to information about food and fitness, advocacy, awareness programs, and a chat line. They also have education resources for grades K-6 and 7-12. Endocrine Web has information for parents of children’s with T1D, including how to manage sick days, meal planning, and working with schools. There are also a number of e-alerts available for subscription.