Have you ever wanted something so desperately that your heart would break without it? We all have, especially as kids. Sometimes the things that we most want are the things that we can’t have. Allergic, by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter, is about a girl called Maggie who desperately wants a pet of her own, but she is allergic to anything with fur or feathers. It is such a great story, with different threads to it – allergies, friendship and family.
Maggie has always wanted a dog but when she finally gets her wish she discovers she is allergic to dogs. In fact, anything with fur or feathers will start her sneezing and itching really badly. Maggie still wants a pet and is determined to find one that will suit her. However, after trying fish, lizards and other critters, she still can’t find the right one. In to Maggie’s life comes her new neighbour, Claire, who Maggie clicks with straight away. Everything is looking great, until Claire gets a dog of her own, and Maggie knows her allergies means they can’t be friends anymore. After Claire apologises she helps Maggie choose a small pet, which they hope won’t set her allergies off. Maggie keeps her pet secret from her family, hiding it in her bedroom. As Maggie tries to ignore her reactions to her pet, her family worry about her. With her mum’s new baby due any time soon, Maggie also worries how she might fight into her family. If she can be allergic to animals is it also possible to be allergic to a baby?
Allergic is an adorable story about desperately wanting something you can’t have. It’s a story about friendship and figuring out where you fit in your family. Megan’s story is super relatable and Michelle’s artwork is cute and has great kid appeal. Megan has created a character who has a lot to deal with, from having something exciting taken away from her, to a new school and a new friend, and a changing family dynamic. Michelle shows us the range of emotions that Maggie goes through and how her allergies physically affect her.
There were so many aspects of Michelle’s illustrations that I loved. There are wordless spreads throughout the book, which show little snapshots of other kids around the neighbourhood (kids walking to school together, getting on the bus and playing in their yards). The montage of Maggie trying different pets is really funny, but also makes you feel sorry for Maggie. One of my favourite illustrations is the one showing the cross-section of Maggie’s and Claire’s houses, which highlights the differences in their lives. I especially love the way Michelle shows how Maggie’s allergies affect her, with the redness of her skin and her puffy, itchy eyes.
Allergic is going to be incredibly popular with kids, especially those who love Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, Victoria Jamieson and Jennifer Holm. It is a must-have for all primary and intermediate school libraries.